Malibu Adamson House Working Toward Necessary Maintenance

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The Adamson House closed March 3 and is now reopened with limited hours.

As the not-so-old adage goes: more money, more problems. 

In the case of Malibu’s historic Adamson House property, money in the bank comes to an estimated $775,000, and problems have mounted.

In addition to well-publicized personality conflicts which reportedly account for this spring’s weeks-long closure — and ongoing limited hours of operation — of the State Parks-operated Adamson House, a historic landmark located on Pacific Coast Highway near Malibu Lagoon, issues pertaining to the large amounts of money sitting virtually unused in the coffers of the Malibu Adamson House Foundation (MAHF) Board of Directors have recently been dragged into the light.

Newly-elected Board President Linas Kojelis, who for 14 months sat on the executive Board of the nonprofit charged with overseeing operations of the house, prior to his recent ascent to the presidency, has stated that his first priority at the house is moving necessary repairs forward.

Kojelis and State Parks Angeles District Superintendent Craig Sap have yet to meet, since Sap and Malibu Superintendent Lynette Brody, the State’s representative on the Board, were not present during his election and have yet to receive the minutes for the May 21 meeting, proving Kojelis’ legal election to the presidency.

Kojelis, a self-proclaimed “active preservationist,” comes to the presidency with nearly 40 years of experience on the national trust and an understanding that the house’s repairs need to be re-assessed. The last time a full appraisal of necessary repairs was made was in a document called the Getty Report, compiled in 2005.

“Certainly, my central mission is, we need to update the Getty Report … I think it estimates about $750,000 or $800,000 in costs of comprehensive repairs and renovations to the house, but that’s 10 years old, so you’ve got an increase in costs, but also it’s a house right next to the Pacific, so there’s 10 extra years of wear and tear on the house we have to look at,” Kojelis told The Malibu Times.

The frustration Kojelis felt in regards to the money sitting in the MAHF Board’s account, which can only be unlocked in State Parks-approved projects, has been echoed by others on the Board, some of whom have described projects waiting in the pipeline for years.

Sap said that though State Parks is invested in working on maintenance and repair projects on the rapidly aging structure, they are not at fault for the lack of repairs that have occurred over the past several years.

Instead, said Sap, the MAHF Board has refused to put forth the money needed to create the report, which, according to Sap, nears $250,000.

“The study … has to be done, and they’ve told us they don’t want to pay for studies,” Sap said. “We respect that. If they don’t pay for studies, that’s fine — we’ll pay for it and then when the project needs to be done, they will pay for the project.”

Kojelis and Sap seemed to agree that the study was necessary to move forward, each stressing the importance of the document.

“That will be the roadmap — the blueprint — for the repairs that have to be done,” Sap said.

With the state budget still in the works, Sap said he’s cautiously optimistic that State Parks will receive the money from the governor needed for repairs.

When asked, Kojelis, who won the presidency fewer than two weeks ago, said that the MAHF Board is primarily focused on “brick and mortar” repairs for the house, but that a change in priorities for the funds could be considered if necessity dictates.

“There’s a strong consensus [on the Board] that this money should be used primarily for construction on the house,” Kojelis said. 

“Is this something that a qualified volunteer architect can do on a pro bono basis, or is this something that’s going to be a costly project?” Kojelis surmised. “I think if the consensus is that we need to hire someone to do this study, I think our Board would respond to that very positively.”

In the interim, Sap said, smaller repairs have steadily been made, including the cleaning of textiles, replacing material in drapes and an ongoing replacement of screen doors on the property, the delay of which had been previously cited as an example of the inability of State Parks to enact repairs.