Malibu Tiles: Architectural Decoration from California

One of the last large-scale installations of Malibu Tiles is in Victoria, B.C., and is planned to be demolished in 2011. The Victoria School Board (School District 61), in its wisdom, wants to demolish Oak Bay High School (built 1929) and its later 1960’s wings, and replace the entire building with a structure that the local newspaper has likened to looking like a “shopping mall” from the exterior.

It seems appropriate to inspect the exterior of the School and its Malibu Tiles, before it too disappears…



Oak Bay High School – the original 1929 wing.  Built in a California/Spanish style, the arched arcades flanking the central door were originally open, and were later filled in for additional office space.

The main entrance of Oak Bay High School is flanked by bands of Malibu Tiles, which also stud the corners of the sign, and are dotted on the façade between the main and second floor windows.

Two large square arches of Malibu Tiles frame the ends of the main façade of the School.

Detail of the Malibu Tiles that form the main arches on the façade of Oak Bay High School

These Malibu Tiles can be identified by using the Malibu Potteries Tile catalogue.

A side entrance arched by Malibu Tiles

A detail of the Malibu Tiles around the side entrance of Oak Bay High School

Malibu Tiles were widely popular in their heyday – which after all, only lasted six years. Imagine their effect had the Great Depression not wreaked its economic havoc in construction.  Nevertheless, the tiles still survive – sometimes…

The Adamson House still cares for its tiles, and it is well worth a visit.  Los Angeles City Hall has walls covered in Malibu Tiles, and smaller installations continue to be found and identified. And for collectors, a single Malibu tile can make a handsome addition to a wall or interior.

Keep your eyes open, and you may find more Malibu tiles near you!

For further reading and information, please see below.

Thank you to the volunteers of the Malibu Lagoon Museum for their dedication in making the Malibu Potteries’ story better known.

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