Adamson House Celebrates 85th Year

Lynette Brody spent much of Sunday afternoon in the hot sun, dressed in full park ranger regalia, standing outside the imposing front gates of the Adamson House along the Pacific Coast Highway, directing visitor traffic with a smile.

“Is this the way to the fair?” a middle-aged man on a bicycle asked her as he drove up the wide driveway.

“Sure is, the house is around the corner to the left,” Brody, the Malibu sector State Parks superintendent, replied.

State Parks representatives and volunteers mingled with guests and visitors from near and far to celebrate the 85th anniversary of the house and the 150th anniversary of California State Parks at the Adamson House Country Faire on Sunday.

Brody said that the main motivation for hosting the Country Faire was as a “friend-raiser,” to show appreciation for the many visitors who enter the gates every year — an estimated 200 per week, according to docent Lisa Otis-Kisor.

“We have repeat guests and it’s our way of saying ‘thank you,’” Brody said.

The Country Faire was a community event featuring local artists, food trucks, house tours, children’s activities, a barbershop quartet, a 17-piece jazz band and even a cowboy walking the grounds showing visitors lasso and roping tricks throughout the afternoon.

Otis-Kisor, the docent council chairperson who has been volunteering at the Adamson House for nine years, agreed that the Country Faire served as an open house to the grounds for visitors, many of whom are locals who have never visited the house.

“We have so many people that drive by and who’ve never come in before,” Otis-Kisor said.

The Adamson House was designed as a beach home for the Adamson family in 1929. The Adamsons were descended from the Rindge family, who owned the Malibu Land Grant in the 19th Century.

By 1936, the beach house became the family’s permanent residence, which it remained until it was sold to the state of California in 1962 under eminent domain, with reported plans to raze it in favor of beach parking.

Filled with one-of-a-kind Malibu Potteries tiles, the house became a designated historic site in 1983, securing its future as a portal to Malibu’s history.

Sunday’s event drew approximately 1,000 guests during the five-hour time frame, according to organizers. 

The jazz band, Late Night Jazz Orchestra, drew a sizable audience to hear its mix of jazz standards and new compositions. Shaded at the bottom of the hill between the house and the beach, the band’s music wafted to nearby tables where Mark Satterthwaite and Carla Gallo sat with their eight-week old daughter and other family members, finishing ice cream sandwiches.

“This was very nice. It was very calm, very relaxed,” said Gallo, a resident of West L.A. “I like that it wasn’t overcrowded. It was comfortable.”

Satterthwaite agreed, “I hope they do it more. I hope it was a success, enough to justify [holding another similar event].”

Although Otis-Kisor said there are no immediate plans to hold another “friend-raiser” at the Adamson House, Satterthwaite said it would certainly be a draw.

“[Lisa Otis-Kisor] said that they’re only doing it once,” Satterthwaite said. “It feels like something that could happen every month and it would be nice.”

Gallo added that it would likely bring more repeat visitors.

“The thing about the house tour is, if you’ve done it once or twice, there’s not really a reason to come back, but for something like this there is,” Gallo said.

For those who missed the Country Faire, the Adamson House’s next event will be its holiday tours, which take place on the last three Sundays in December.

According to Otis-Kisor, the annual holiday tours are certainly one reason to come back.

“The house is done entirely in vintage decorations,” Otis-Kisor said, “There must be like 25 Christmas trees in the house.”

Another draw that she mentioned was using the house as a wedding venue, something that piqued Gallo’s interest.

“I saw that they do weddings here, so now I’m eyeballing it as a wedding venue,” Gallo said.

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