Adamson House – Malibu, California - Atlas Obscura
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Malibu, California

Adamson House

Malibu's first beach home features an astonishing trove of ceramic tiles.  

Overlooking the ocean at the Malibu Lagoon State Beach, the Adamson House is an architectural beauty with an unusual interior that has earned it the moniker “The Taj Mahal of Tile.”

Constructed in 1929 by May Knight Rindge and Frederick Hastings Rindge, the estate’s history is a story of Malibu’s modern development. At the turn of the century, the Rindges purchased over 13,000 acres of land that encompassed all of Malibu and included Spanish-settled terrain. The couple raised a family on the land and conquered local commerce, opening a dairy farm and in 1926, Malibu Potteries.

Malibu Potteries specialized in ceramic tiles that were influenced by an array of world cultures and featured ornate designs that included nautical motifs and birds of paradise. Tiles produced in the factory adorn the walls of the Los Angeles City Hall, The Roosevelt Hotel, and the Mayan Theater.

In 1929, the Rindge’s eldest daughter wed a dashing ranch hand and the Adamson House was built for the newly formed Adamson family as a wedding present. The estate was broadly built in a Mediterranean Revival style, but idiosyncratic features personal to the Rindges abound in the space’s design. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in the house’s use of ceramic tiles.

Considered to be Malibu Potteries’ masterpiece, it was rumored that the house was none-too-subtly designed as a showcase for the company. A 60-foot “Persian rug” made of tiles is positioned in the house’s entryway, welcoming guests to explore the house’s thousands of custom tiles. Featuring Native American, Andalusian, Art Deco, and nautical themes, the tiles  blanket the house’s kitchen, bathrooms, and floors. Outside, the tiles appear on fountains, benches, and the family’s saltwater pool.

Malibu Potteries closed in 1932 after a fire devastated the factory. Though the Adamson House holds a history much richer than the sum of its tiles, its the best place to view the legendary company’s work.