Adamson House docents decorate for the holiday

To celebrate the season, special Friday evening tours, which will include refreshments and a small gift, will take place this month at the Adamson House, which has been decorated for the holidays by volunteer docents. Right: A pink Christmas tree, like one that Rhoda Rindge Adamson had in the '50s, adds a whimsical historical element to the Adamson House decor.

Docents at the Adamson House are decorating the landmark Spanish Revival house for the holiday season. Every December, a decorations committee made up of volunteers array the house with traditional Christmas ornaments, wreaths, strings of lights and a collection of prized ornaments throughout the 11 rooms of the main house. To celebrate the season, special Friday evening tours, which will include refreshments and a small gift, will take place this month. Rhoda and Merritt Adamson, who owned Adohr Farms dairy, moved with their three children into the Adamson House on Surfrider Beach in 1930 and lived there for more than 30 years. It is now an historic museum house open to the public.

This year’s decoration chair is Malibu resident Sandy Underwood, who said her goal is “to display a modern version of a Christmas of the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s, the years the Adamson family occupied the house, but still honor the integrity and beauty of the home.

“Perhaps we will even inspire our visitors to use these ideas in their own holiday decorations,” she added.

With Underwood’s direction, the docents have added a new whimsical historical element, a pink Christmas tree, which Sylvia Adamson, one of the Adamson daughters, said was a favorite “modern” touch added by her mother sometime in the ’50s. It is displayed in Sylvia’s former upstairs bedroom.

The highlight is the elaborately trimmed tree that is the centerpiece of the 10-foot high living room, once the family’s gathering place . The spacious 30-foot room contains all original furnishings, pointed arch windows and a molded concrete fireplace with the god Neptune painted on the chimney facing the ocean just outside the window. A Scott radio plays songs from the ’30s, creating an authentic atmosphere for visitors.

Rare Malibu tile is still the dominant feature of the home, but the addition of holiday cheer makes the traditional dark Moorish features of the rooms sparkle. The Adamson House is renowned for its Spanish Revival mixture of eclectic elements. The house is on the National Register of Historic Places and is considered the most lavishly tiled house of its genre. It is one of only a few museum houses preserved in California. The Malibu Lagoon Museum is on the same site. Both the house and museum are owned by California State Parks but managed by volunteers who organize tours and plan related social and cultural events.

The house is open regularly Wednesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults and $2 for children. Large children’s group tours are available. Adult groups larger than 10 should call ahead for reservations. During the holiday season night tours cost $12 and require reservations made by calling the main information number, 310.456.8432. Volunteers and docents are always welcome.