After becoming an item in the '70s, my parents moved from their Westwood apartments into a beachside love-nest in Malibu. Yet they were sad to find, that after a while, the morning commute to their fashion jobs in Downtown L.A. via the tortoise-paced Pacific Coast Highway became unbearable. This probably had to do with the influx of celebs moving to the old Movie Colony, as well as the retro re-discovery of teen cruising, and the surfing revival, birthing a million Spicolis in search of babes and waves. So they bought a quiet house in The Valley, but took my sister and I every weekend to the 'Bu, to visit their old haunts, and let us swing on the Country Mart's jungle gym.
I have memories of building sandcastles in the Malibu Lagoon as a little girl, and being curious about the beautiful tile-worked "Adamson House" sign on the road nearby. It wasn't until reading about the home in Martha's Living, that I became aware of what an architectural gem was sitting right there on our shore.
After years of curiosity, we finally took a tour . . . exploring every nook & cranny of the castle-like tile shrine. Land developer Frederick Rindge and his enterprising wife, May, originally purchased the land on which Malibu sits in the 1800s, and after his passing in 1905, his wealthy widow began leasing surrounding property to Hollywood stars, creating the infamous Malibu Movie Colony. With that income, she invested in the founding of Malibu Potteries (c.1926), and in 1930, May's eldest daughter Rhoda married Merritt Anderson,and together they founded the successful dairy farm, Adohr (Rhoda spelled backward). after that success, they began to build her dream home on her family's property, designed under the supervision of architect Stiles O. Clements, and utilizing the talents of pottery artisans like Rufus Keeler. Though the tile factory only existed for 7 years, closing due to the Depression, the works it produced are timeless jewels that still adorn many of California's most beloved landmarks, including; City Hall, the Mayan theatre, and Hollywood's Roosevelt Hotel.
The preservation efforts are astounding . . . the family's original furniture exactly where it was placed in the 1930s, and the eye-dazzling array of colorful tile motifs all in tact, each piece hand-painted and fired using the traditional Spanish cuerda seca glazing technique. Every detail hails from that bohemian era when folks first began fantasizing about traveling to exotic locales. As a result, the decor is an eclectic blend of Spanish colonial architecture adorned with Moorish, Moroccan, Pueblo Deco (my new obsession) and Mediterranean details. Also noticeable are hand-painted Scandinavian wooden pieces, as well as gothic Nouveau-style touches (make sure to catch the iron spider web gate). Real rugs were unneeded, as Malibu Pottery artisan William Handly created full-scale custom Persian carpets made entirely of tiles for the floors. There is even an outdoor tiled tub room solely for washing the family hounds. Also not to be missed are the whimsical children's rooms, covered in fairy tale and Maritime illustrations, not to mention the tiny upstairs "snack kitchen" for guest, and the Egyptian Revival style pool house.
Tours Weds.-Sat. 11am-2pm
23200 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA
Photos: Me and Martha Stewart's Living