The Getty Villa in Malibu gets the most attention but the Adamson House (just a bit further up PCH) and its dramatic family lore is worth the time to explore. Designed by Stiles O. Clements in 1929, the house was built for Rhoda Rindge Adamson and her husband, Merritt Huntley Adamson. The couple were the daughter and son-in-law of Frederick Hastings Rindge and May Knight Rindge, last owners of the Malibu Spanish Land Grant.
Rhoda May Rindge (who was widowed) guarded her privacy by hiring guards to evict all trespassers and fought a lengthy court battle to prevent the building of a Southern Pacific railroad line. Few roads even entered the area before 1929, when the state won another court case and built what is now known as the Pacific Coast Highway. The Rindge house, known as the Adamson House, is now part of Malibu Creek State Park and is situated between Malibu Lagoon State Beach and Surfrider Beach, beside the Malibu Pier that was originally built for the family yacht.
So basically the family fortune was spent in fighting development. It is hard to believe that this famous stretch of coastline was owned at one time by just one family. Did you know the Malibu colony was created by May Rindge to generate some income to help defer the legal costs of the battle? She built the original colony cottages and rented them. She was concerned nobody would want to rent them.
May sure knew how to work her resources. She also created Malibu Potteries (1926-32) to utilize the unique red and buff burning clays that existed in the Malibu area, as well as an abundant supply of water from a spring in Sweetwater Canyon. Beginning in 1926, exquisite tiles were produced and installed in hundreds of residential and public buildings throughout Southern California.
The house and grounds have been restored and through the generosity of the remaining family, all of the original furnishings (and even the clothing) have been replaced in the house as a living memory of how life was lived there.