Malibu’s Solstice Canyon, has one of the only year-round waterfalls in the Santa Monica Mountains and also contains the ruins of a stone cottage and an estate built by renowned African-American architect Paul Williams known as Tropical Terrace that burned to the ground in 1982.
Located off Corral Canyon Road from Pacific Coast Highway, the canyon runs north-to-south about a mile east of Point Dume. Full of history dating back to the early 20th century, visitors can take an easy hike for a couple of miles, or a more strenuous hike over six miles. Proximity to the beach makes this an extremely popular destination on weekends. With limited parking, carpooling is strongly encouraged.
Around 1865, Matthew Keller built a stone cottage in the canyon, believed to be the oldest existing stone building in Malibu.
After surviving countless wildfires, the structure was finally left in ruins by the 2007 Corral Canyon Fire.
Tropical Terrace was built by famed African-American architect Paul Williams for Fred Roberts, a supermarket mogul, and his wife Florence.
Built as the couple’s retirement dream home, the exotic design was featured in Architectural Digest for its impressive blending of the home’s design with the property’s trees, creeks, and waterfalls. Concerned about the area’s high fire risk Fred insisted that the architect include an elaborate fire protection system for the home and build using only fire resistant materials.
Williams’ carefully thought out system of pumps, pipes, and water collecting pools could only put off the inevitable.
Roberts died in 1976 and would not see his dream home’s end. It would be totally destroyed in 1982 by one of the fall wildfires that frequently burn through the canyon to the ocean.
Solstice Canyon along with the remains of the Roberts Ranch homesite became a public park in 1988 managed by the National Park Service.
Traces of the Williams’ designed landscape, fish pond and the grassy area overlooking the creek remain, looking like a “life-sized blueprint” of the original home.
Just around the corner from the house is a small, multi-tiered waterfall…
…I mean really small. It is one of the only year-round waterfalls in the Santa Monica Mountain.