Thursday, November 19, 2009

Brilliantly Patterned Malibu Tile - Historic Adamson House Part II

Brilliantly patterned tile work at the Historic Adamson House.

.. Under Construction ..

Adamson House Entryway
below... the Star Pool

Rich with history, the Malibu Lagoon area is believed by many to trace back to a Chumash Indian village, 
called Pueblo de las Canoas by the Spanish explorer Juan Cabrillo in 1542.
Adamson House is located adjacent to the Lagoon: 
The original site .. "a series of large sand dunes - 13 acres in size. As construction of the house neared completion, good humus was transported from nearby canyons. Garden beds 5 to 10 feet deep were graded and landscaped with many exotic and native plants. Rhoda Adamson planted several rose and victory gardens...."

Architect Stiles Clements designed the house in a Spanish Colonial Revival style 
for Merritt Huntley Adamson and his wife, Rhoda, the daughter of Frederick and May Rindge. 

Dating to 1930, the home and gardens comprise a unique setting, 
decorated indoors and out with stunning ceramic tiles manufactured by Malibu Potteries. 
May K. Rindge established the pottery in 1926. 
The Great Depression and a fire signaled the company's closure in 1932.

Peacock Fountain

Neptune Fountain

Originally the family's summer place, the house eventually became the Adamsons' principal residence. 
Purchased by the state of California in 1968, plans were to tear down the house and create a parking lot!  
A concerned community managed to halt the destruction of this unique landmark. 
Visitors touring the house see the original, beautifully preserved furnishings. 

A venerable California Sycamore, Plantanus racemosatakes center stage on the Wedding Lawn.

Arborist Aaron Landworth and a volunteer docent happened to be on-site to discuss the health 
of the Pink Snowball tree. 
Thus, despite the property being closed for the day, I entered through the imposing gateway on a Sunday afternoon.
While a conference took place about the Dombeya tree, I strolled the grounds to find
 the exemplary tilework abetted by a magnificent collection of trees:

A Bunya-Bunya, Mexican Fan Palms, and rare New Zealand Chaste Tree (Vitex lucens), 
among the garden specimens.
A tree I had never before seen or heard about, the Primrose or Cow Itch tree 
(Lagunaria patersonii) hails from Norfolk Island in the Pacific Ocean. ("..seed capsules open to reveal five compartments and should be handled with care because of the fine sharp hairs" -

Periwinkle blue window frames complement the handsome tiles set around the doorway
 in the patio area where the snowball tree (Dombeya cayeuxii) emerges.
I'm pleased to report, the prognosis for the tree is good!
Click on Link below for Part I:


  1. I'm closing my eyes in the hopes that I'll be transported to this magical place! The tile work is very interesting especially when comparing it to Nor Cal's Gladding McBean studios from the same time period (and used extensively by Julia Morgan) This is much more colorful and less chunky.

  2. Christine,

    Now I find myself wanting to read a comprehensive survey of American & West Coast pottery from this period. During my days as a functional potter, I created stoneware and porcelain dinnerware, along with low-fire sculptural raku vessels. When I turned to sculpture, I left clay behind, but always imagined that one day I would return to clay to create colorful terra-cotta inspired by historical Majolica.

    But garden writing and making gardens took all my time and energy!

  3. I love colorful tile. I was going to gush over the container with the geraniums and then I scrolled down and saw the face! What a hoot.

  4. Exquisite! That first photo of the tile... quite beautiful. What a tree... to be in its presence must be moving. Lovely post! Carol

  5. Gorgeous! I don't know that I could imagine a better example of Malibu color and sunshine. I hope you do get your hands back into some clay again. I bet this certainly stirred your passions again.

  6. Oh my goodness, surely that place is heaven. When I die I want to go there for sure, though it would be nice to visit before that! The tiling is exceptional, so sad that the pottery isn't still going, I'd love some. The Neptune head looks very like our 'Green Man' in Ireland. Oh the star swimming pool.....Were those people literally insane when they thought 'hey, let's knock this down and have a car park instead'. Golly
    Gorgeous post as always xxx

  7. Alice, The California Sycamore is fantasti. It exudes ancient wisdom. The tiles in the peacock Fountgain and the colorful container are perfect for the setting! gail

  8. I love all the tile work on the house and in the gardens. A dream of mine is to have more here. thank you for your comment on my post about desert plants. I'm so glad I could share one of your favorite sections with yo.

  9. What superb tiles! I love the colours, so vivid. And the sculpture of the Green Man like face is wonderful.

  10. what a grand and beautiful entrance! The star shaped pool is so creative. I can't believe ANYONE could think of tearing down such a house. Some people are completely unconscionable.