The Adamson House:
Just perusing Google to find something to do up in the Los Angeles area, we came across the Adamson House in Malibu.
This grand home sits on the beach very close to the Malibu Pier so we thought it might be interesting to see what it was all about, plus I have never seen the pier. At the very worst, hanging out by the beach wouldn’t be such a bad way to spend the day.
Situated just off of Pacific Coast Highway, we saw the Adamson sign and turned into an all day parking lot that cost a hefty twelve dollars a car. We learned later you could also park on the street to save the parking fees.
Since the home is open to the public, you don’t have to pay to just walk around the outside or visit the museum. It is only if you take the inside docent led tour that you have to pay a nominal seven dollars each.
We paid the fee and made our way into the five car garage that has been converted into the visitor center/ museum. There you can view old photos and learn a little more about the beginnings of the house.
While in the garage, you are then led to a seating area where the guide proceeds to tell you the history of how the home came to be.
My problem is, I am a visual person so I just wanted to get into the house. To top things off, somewhere during our guide’s speech she mentioned that no photos could be taken inside, darn!!!!
I started getting antsy, the history lesson was taking way too long. I just wanted the basics but she was getting into the chronicles of both the original families. I looked around and most people seemed to be enjoying the lecture by laughing when they were supposed to or nodding during interesting tidbits. My eyes were wandering, I was officially losing interest. Maybe these types of tours are not for me.
The History of Adamson House:
So with that in mind I will give you a very brief history.
This site was once the home of the Chumash Indians who lived there until the late 18thcentury. Later, the Rindge family owned the location as well as 20 miles of additional coastline and soon the family’s daughter, Rhoda, along with her husband, Merritt Huntley Adamson, used this plot of land to construct a beach house.
Built in 1929, it sits on one of the most premier oceanfront spots in all of Southern California.
In 1968 the State of California bought the property and it is now a National Historic Site plus a California Historical Landmark.
There is so much more involved in the history but let’s leave it at that and get to the actual tour!
It was now time to go inside! Standing in the courtyard, we got our first glimpse at the massive front door while the docent described the windows, tiles, and other architectural features. My eyes wandered yet again but this time towards that amazing beach, the sparkling ocean view, and just offshore, the emerging rocks of the tide pools
The view from the court yard. The tide pools are to the left.
In the distance, you could see the lagoon and beyond that, the Malibu Colony. The Malibu Colony is a private gated community where movie stars and Hollywood folk live in massive homes that are just a few yards from the breaking waves.
The Adamson House is considered the first beach home in Malibu and from each room, the view is incredible.
Stepping into 1929:
Just like the iconic Hearst Castle up the coast a few hours, this residence also had furnishings that were preserved from the era that it was built.
Besides world-famous Malibu Tile which can be seen throughout the house, it also features hand-carved doors, hand-painted murals, molded ceilings, and bottle glass windows.
The rooms were filled with the furniture, appliances, and light features from the time it was built. I believe our guide said that only one chair had been refurbished. The other chairs and couches all had the original fabric.
The paint and wall features made it seem dark in inside. Visualizing that if it was my house, I would definitely lighten it up with some fresh paint, maybe a soft sea foam green, pastel blue? However, for its day, I am sure it was a beautiful home.
The kitchen was super interesting with its old time appliances and items that took you back in time. I poked my head into the dishwasher which was state of the art in its time, but it just looked like an oversized washing machine basin to me.
The tour wasn’t short as we went through quite a few rooms including bedrooms, living rooms, and even the master bedroom. We also got to see the bathrooms where quite a few were decked out in that amazing locally made Malibu Tile.
In the master bedroom, there was a cozy little sitting area next to a window where Rhoda and Merritt Adamson frequently sat while facing their preferred view. One would look south toward the pier and the other north toward he lagoon.
The living room had massive arched windows and what looked like comfortable furniture. We obviously couldn’t sit on anything so I can only go by looks alone.
There was a small kitchenette upstairs for the residents to use sans the housekeeper and we were told this is where the daughters learned to cook.
After the indoor tour was over, we went outside to visit the pool and pool house. We passed by a few fountains and again there was that backdrop!! You really couldn’t pick a better location.
All in all, it is a great tour for the seven bucks. The twelve dollar parking we utilized by spending another couple of hours at the beach.
Down by the shore, it is a magical scene as the beach stretched for miles. You could see the sea life in the tide pools as well as hundreds of tiny colorful rocks in shades of pinks, light blues, turquoise, yellows, and reds just below the water surface.
I walked down the beach a little more and saw the front of the Adamson House. Though they are long gone, I hope the Adamsons realize what they had. I am just glad I was able to spend a few hours in their former world and happy that the state of California is sharing it with us. It is definitely worth a visit.
You can find this hidden gem at 23200 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90265. Be sure and save time to check out the beach and the pier is only a short walk.
Be prepared to hear a history lesson at the very beginning and I hope you listen better than I did. It actually is a good story.
All I can say is thank goodness for Goggle.
Story and photos: Debbie Colwell