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Adamson House, Malibu, California

All photographs taken by Kenneth A. Larson. All rights reserved. © 2002 - 2017.


The Adamson House was built in 1930 for Rhoda Rindge Adamson and her husband, Merritt Huntley Adamson, the family that started the famous Malibu Tile Company. The house was designed by Stiles O. Clements in 1929 and construction began in 1929. The Adamsons occupied the house during the summer beginning in 1930, and lived in it year-around beginning in 1937.

The Malibu Lagoon Museum adjoins the Adamson House in the former garage. It contains a collection of artifacts, rare photographs, and documents depicting the history of Malibu.

Henry Keller may have acquired the land for 10 cents an acre in 1854. In 1892, he sold the 13,000-acre Rancho Malibu to Frederick H. Rindge, for a price reported to have been between $10 and $22 per acre. Frederick Rindge, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, had recently inherited over $2 million and moved to California and after a time, looked for "a farm near the ocean, and under the lee of the mountain, with a trout brook, wild trees, a lake, good soil, and excellent climate." He found his "farm" in Malibu Canyon. He described the Malibu coast as the "American Riviera." He built a ranch house which was lost to fire in 1903. There were no roads to Malibu at that time. Everyone and everything came in by horseback or boat, or by horse-drawn wagon, over packed sand, at low tide. In 1904, the Southern Pacific Railroad tried to build railroad tracks across the Malibu area, to link Santa Monica and Santa Barbara. Rindge opposed the Southern Pacific and incorporated his own railway line, the Hueneme, Malibu, and Port Los Angeles Railroad.

Frederick Rindge died in 1905, and his wife, Rhoda May Knight Rindge, carried out his plans for the ranch, despite having to pay a big inheritance tax and high interest bills. In little more than 20 years, it reportedly became the most valuable single real estate holding in the United States. Rhoda May Rindge, often called "May. K. Rindge," tried to keep highways out of her property, but the county and state obtained a right-of-way, and the Roosevelt Highway was opened in 1926 or 1928. She started building a 50-room Mediterranean-style house in 1928 but it was never finished or lived in.

Merritt Huntley Adamson was descended from pioneers who came west to Oregon. The family moved to the Arizona Territory, where his father, John Quincy Adamson, was elected to the Arizona Territorial Legislature. Merritt was born in 1888, in Los Angeles. As a young man, he took charge of the family sheep ranch in Arizona, after his father died. There, he became a "blood brother" of the Havasupai tribe, and in college was nicknamed "Great Chief White Smoke," or simply "Smoke Adamson." He graduated from University of Southern California Law School, passed the bar, and went to work as Superintendent of the Malibu Ranch. There he met and married Rhoda Agatha Rindge, daughter of May K. Rindge, in 1915. Merritt Adamson established the Adohr ("Rhoda" spelled backward) Stock Farms, which became a very large milk producer--possibly the world's largest. Adamson achieved many business and civic honors. He died in 1949, whereupon Rhoda took over the stock farm, other family investments, and the Adamson House. Mrs. Adamson died in 1962.

In 1968, the State purchased the property. In 1971, the president of Pepperdine University moved in, as part of an effort to maintain the house until it could be properly restored and shown to the public as an historic unit. The Malibu Lagoon Interpretive Association was formed in 1981, and they carefully planned for the opening of the house as a museum, in 1983

Tours: Wednesday through Saturday, Tuesdays - Bus tours only
11:00 am - 3:00 pm (Last tour at 2:00 pm)
ADMISSION: 17 years and older - $5.00; 6 to 16 years - $2.00; 5 years and under - free
For reservations: call (310) 456-8432 or email: info@adamsonhouse.org
www.adamsonhouse.org

Address: 23200 Pacific Coast Highway
P. O. Box 291
Malibu, California
Adjacent to Malibu Lagoon State Beach
Adamson House
Back. Photo date: 4-27-02.

Adamson House
Front door.
Adamson House
Side door.
Adamson House
Garage, now gift shop. Note the intricate wood carving.
Adamson House
Ocean view.
Adamson House
Fountain.
Adamson House
Under balcony.
Adamson House
Ceiling in a hallway.
Adamson House
Ocean view.
Adamson House
Garden.

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This page last updated: Saturday, 06-Jul-2013 17:41:46 EDT

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