Adamson House honors volunteers with awards party and a dip in the pool

The Adamson House, Malibu’s only National Historic Site and California Historic Landmark, depends on its volunteer docents to give tours to the public. The oceanfront property, owned and operated by California State Parks, includes a fully furnished historic 1929 house with an elaborate number of 90-plus-year-old Malibu-made decorative tiles throughout its interior and exterior, as well as a swimming pool, extensive gardens, terraces and a star fountain. 

On May 24, following a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic, State Parks and the Adamson House Foundation held a Volunteer Recognition Event on the grounds of the historic property. The ceremony marked one year since COVID-19 public health guidelines allowed the reopening of the home and the museum at Malibu Lagoon State Beach. 

“The event honored the commitment of the volunteers to their responsibilities and duties as interpreters of this historical property,” according to State Parks, and included awards presentations, a rare privilege to swim in the pool, a taco cart vendor, and potluck dishes.

Museum Curator Damian Ruddy told The Malibu Times that the Adamson House Docent Program is in need of more volunteers to rebuild the tour program. “Our numbers have declined dramatically since the beginning of the pandemic,” he said, noting that the number of volunteers had dropped by 50 percent — from 80 down to 40.

He elaborated that “the Adamson House is now seeking committed retirees who are available on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, or Saturday from 11 to 3 p.m.” A minimum of four hours per week is required and on-the-job training is provided (with more formal scheduled training to be provided later on).

“Currently, we’re only providing general public, garden and wedding tours, and special holiday tours in December,” Ruddy explained. “School group and Tuesday group tours are on hold until we can rebuild the program.” All inquiries for volunteer positions should go to AH.Volunteers@parks.ca.gov.

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The volunteer recognition awards were presented to exceptional volunteers by Ruddy; Barbara Tejada, supervisor of the cultural resources program; and Craig Sap, interim Angeles District superintendent.

The Poppy Award, given to State Parks volunteers that have served for 5 years or more and made significant contributions to the betterment of California State Parks, was given to Suzanne Clark, Barbara Ann-Haas, Betsy Handler, and Olivia Davidson.

The Medallion Award, also known as a “superior achievement” award, is given to State Parks volunteers that have served for 10 years or more and have already received a Poppy Award. It’s the highest level volunteer award; given to those who “made a substantial impact to a State Park worthy of the director’s recognition.”

This year, three volunteers received this award: Dana Perkins for 14 years of service to the Docent Program at Adamson House, Susie Dettmers-Smith for 14 years of service, and Paul Wineman for 21 years of service.

The Coral Tree Adamson House Award (pre-Poppy Award) was given to volunteers Ellen Burson, Mariana Goebel, Patty Haddad, Rosalind Murray, Marsha Collins, Diane Kalan, Mary Lou Saeby and Anita Brunner.

Sycamore Tree Adamson House Awards (between Poppy and Medallion) went to Anne Hughes and Patricia Belcher-Williams.

The oceanfront property, owned and operated by California State Parks, includes a fully furnished historic 1929 house with an elaborate number of 90-plus-year-old Malibu-made decorative tiles throughout its interior and exterior, as well as a swimming pool, extensive gardens, terraces and a star fountain. Photo by Julie Ellerton

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