Malibu Tiles: Architectural Decoration from California


Fountains were another popular use of Malibu Tiles, and the Mediterranean friendly designs were appropriate for the hot weather that went along with splashing water.

The Adamson House has a few splendid examples of fountains, including the “Peacock Fountain” in the garden.

The Peacock Fountain at the Adamson House, Malibu, with the Pacific Ocean beyond.

A detail of one of the peacocks on the back of the fountain.

Other fountains used Malibu Tiles in their designs.  Even the ever-so-English Empress Hotel in Victoria, B.C. had a Malibu-tiled fountain as a centerpiece in the hotel conservatory.

The fountain in the conservatory of the Empress Hotel in Victoria, B.C. This fountain was removed several years ago when the conservatory was remodeled as a passageway to link the Hotel to a new Conference Centre built on the original gardens behind the hotel.Unidentified woman, 1940’s.

Also in Victoria, an automobile Showroom was entirely lined in Malibu Tiles, including a wide outdoor terrace that was flanked on each side by two wall fountains. Unfortunately, the showroom was demolished many years ago, and one of the fountains was salvaged for use in an outdoor restaurant, but the second fountain languished on, vandalized, bleakly looking out at a parking lot. Few people recognize its history today.

One of the last remnants of a splendid all-tile automobile showroom in Victoria. The last tile fountain, set in a wall, with the probable lion’s head spigot removed, and the bowl smashed off, nevertheless, one can appreciate the artistry, and a hint of how the entire building might have looked.

A close-up of the fountain, showing two pairs of birds at the top in the exuberant decoration.

Other places that Malibu Tiles were used were on commercial buildings.  Many buildings in the late 1920’s were built in a California/Spanish/Moorish variety of styles, evoking a sunny California lifestyle, even if the buildings were built in the wetter Pacific Northwest. Some were sparsely decorated with tiles, but they gave an appropriately “Spanish” icing on an otherwise fairly plain building, such as this example in Victoria, BC.

Probably this building in Victoria, B.C. was originally painted white, possibly with a red flashing at the top of the stucco wall, in order to correctly invoke the California Mission style.

Seattle had many buildings that incorporated Malibu Tiles.  One of them was the Rodgers Tile Company who decorated their own building with Malibu Tiles.

The Rodgers Tile Company building in Seattle Washington, offered a more elaborate decoration of Malibu Tiles on its building.


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