art, history, gardens

project Wayfarers Chapel

Wanderer, adventurer, vagabond, rambler… Wayfarers Chapel.

In Rancho Palos Verdes, on a grassy hillock overlooking the Pacific Ocean, there is a small chapel made of glass. The chapel is chic, and gentle and warm inside. It was first envisioned in the 1920s, by a member of the Swedenborgian Church (a Protestant Christian denomination, named for its 18th century founder, Emanuel Swedenborg, a scientist, philosopher and theologian), as a place where life’s wayfarers could stop to rest, meditate and give thanks to God.  

Pause for a moment, wayfarer,
on life’s journey.
Let these waters restore your
soul and nourish your
inner being.
— Quote on a wall of the chapel, 1984

The chapel came to its redwood and glass fruition in 1951. It was designed by Lloyd Wright (Frank Lloyd Wright’s eldest son) who found that the teachings of the Swedenborgian church, their emphasis on the harmony between God’s natural world and the inner world of mind and spirit, matched his own design ethics.

When the trees that surround the Chapel grow up, they will become the framework...this is done to give the congregation protection in services and at the same time to create the sense of outer as well as inner space.
— Lloyd Wright

The chapel, grounds and visitor’s center are open daily from 10:00 am - 5:00 pm. There are frequently weddings held in the chapel, so you may have to wait for an opportunity to go inside. Worry not. The breathtaking views of the surroundings and the little rose garden are more than enough to occupy your eyeballs and feed your gentle wayfarer soul.

museum, art, history

project Adamson House

THE ADAMSON HOUSE, a beautiful house, on a pretty piece of property, sandwiched between Surfrider Beach and the Malibu Lagoon.


View from the Adamson House balconies, facing south-west.

View from the Adamson House balconies, facing south-west.

It’s more than just a beautiful house, actually. It’s one of California’s finest crafted homes. Perhaps the most eye-seducing bit of the estate is the ceramic tile work that is woven, ever so meticulously and thoughtfully, through each room in the house and on the exterior. The tiles were created by the famous, though short-lived, Malibu Potteries, whose lead ceramicist is considered a genius in his field. Our docent’s favorite room is the upstairs bathroom that belonged to the Adamson’s daughters, because it cocoons you in a wash of turquoise, and cobalt and burnt-orange tile.

The House itself is open for tours on only Friday and Saturday. But the grounds the house sits on are open everyday from 8:00 am to Sunset. There’s a magnificent view of the beach from the garden in the backyard, where you can tuck yourself away from, but still totally watch, the swaths of surfers on the beach. Have a little stroll down the dirt driveway and sit on the observation deck of the Malibu Lagoon for some additional tranquility.

If you happen to be in the area on a Fri/Sat, take the hour-long docent led tour of the house’s interior. The docents are engaging, and enthusiastic and knowledgeable. The tour is good for all ages, and for architect nuts and non-nuts alike.

To learn more about the Adamson House, it’s history and visitor information, go to:

art, history

project Murphy's Ranch

MURPHY'S RANCH, the abandoned ruins of a former Nazi-compound. 

In the early 1930s, a mysterious German man, known simply as Herr Schmidt, befriended a couple of wealthy American Nazi-sympathizers. He claimed to possess supernatural powers and ties to the Third Reich, and he convinced Winona and Norman Stephens (our ever-pliable American couple) that Hitler’s takeover of the United States was imminent.

The facts surrounding this story are sketchy, even for historians. But the thing that’s definitely true is that there is a compound of overgrown, spray-painted ruins tucked away in a canyon in the Pacific Palisades, and you can hike to it.  

Rumor is the couple hoped to establish a Nazi Utopia that could sustain them and a small following through the apocalyptic-style months that would follow Hitler’s conquering of America. They built an elaborate infrastructure that included a 395,000-gallon concrete water tank, a 20,000-gallon diesel fuel tank and a power station.

It’s all still there today.  

Take Note:

  • The hike is just under 4 miles.
  • It is accessible from the residential end of Sullivan Ridge Fire Road (street parking at the intersection of Capri Dr. and Casale Rd.) or via Rustic Canyon from Will Rogers State Historic Park.
  • The compound is connected by a series of steep, stone stairs. Prep for sweat.


neighborhood, art

project Watts

WATTS TOWERS, a tiny Italian man’s grand sculpture in South LA.  


It took him 34 years to build. He did it single-handed. No machinery. No formal training. Near penniless.

“I had it in mind to do something big, and I did it,” said Sam Rodia, the tiny Italian man who built Watts Towers.

Go see what Simon Rodia made. It’s nothing short of majestic.

What is it?

Starting in 1921, Rodia started constructing what would become seventeen intertwining sculptures out of structural steel and mortar. He decorated each with a mosaic of broken glass, sea shells, tile, cutlery and all manner of found/donated items. The tallest of the towers stands 99.5 feet and contains the longest slender reinforced concrete column in the world. He named his masterpiece Nuestro Pueblo, “Our Town.” Almost everything he made was an homage to his homeland of Italy and memories from his childhood.

That’s where our explanation ends. Go visit yourself. There’s a great story.

Historic Watts Station, just minutes from the Watts Towers Art Center

Historic Watts Station, just minutes from the Watts Towers Art Center

Take Note

  • Take the metro Blue Line and exit Watts station, where you are about a five minute walk from the Watts Towers.
  • Tickets are $7 for the docent led tour. Be sure to check out the website for tour times and more info. 
  • Along your walk check out the historic Watts Station, built in 1904. Sam purposefully chose to buy a plot of land close by this station so people could easily access it along the railroad.