The Woolsey Fire’s path of destruction was indiscriminate. Just off Mulholland Highway, the blaze seared the bridge off Troutdale Road and nearly obliterated Peter Strauss Ranch. Flames danced dangerously close to the Old Place—but ultimately, the tiny steakhouse was spared.
As the wildfire ravaged the canyons of Malibu and marched north through Agoura Hills and Calabasas, it wiped out celebrities’ mansions and mobile homes in equal measure. The fire, which was 98 percent contained by November 21, burned more than 1,500 structures, making it the most destructive in LA’s history.
Beloved neighborhood fixtures, including the Rock Store and Neptune’s Net, survived, while historic sites like the Sepulveda Adobe, built in 1863 and still in the process of being restored after being damaged by the Northridge earthquake, became a smoldering shell.
Below is a list of local landmarks, places cemented in popular culture, and resplendent homes located in the fire’s march from the Valley to the sea. The Malibu area in particular holds a wealth of famous houses designed by such pioneering designers as Frank Gehry and John Lautner. The potential for architectural loss is enormous. Malibu is not a cookie-cutter city.
With some of these areas still under mandatory evacuation orders, and many roads still closed, it’s still too soon to know every property’s status. But several Malibu businesses and cultural sites that did not suffer damage plan to reopen Friday, November 23. The list will be updated as more information becomes available.
- Peter Strauss Ranch: An historic ranch with a concert area that dates to the 1930s was a popular destination for live music. The ranch’s buildings have been destroyed, the National Park Service confirmed.
- The Old Place: The cozy steakhouse still stands, per Instagram.
- The Rock Store: The old stagecoach-stop-turned-motorcycle-haunt is still standing, per this Facebook post.
- Western Town at Paramount Ranch: The faux Western main street was almost completely burned; only the church and a train station survived. A popular set for filmmakers in the 1930s, it is today best known as the backdrop for Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman and HBO’s Westworld. “Let’s today begin to make that commitment to restore this place,” said state Assemblymember Richard Bloom at an event where officials promised the town would be rebuilt and announced a campaign to restore it.
- Morrison Ranch House: A century-old ranch house featured in films including “Of Mice and Men” and “The Durango Kid” has been completely destroyed, according to the Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority.
- ‘A Star Is Born’ House: The 1970s post and beam was designed by Doug Rucker and renovated by Staples Center architect Dan Meis. The home is not in an area that burned.
- Saddle Peak Lodge: No damage, reported the restaurant on Facebook.
- Adamson House: Board vice president Jules Hershfeld confirms the historic property—a tilework masterpiece that was the first beach house in Malibu—was not damaged. “All the artifacts were, however, removed for safety and they will be brought back in time for our opening to the public on November 23,” he said.
- Frank Lloyd Wright’s Arch Oboler Complex: Located “high up on a ridge” above Mulholland, the “vocabulary that Wright used here is directly related to his 1939 Sturges House in West Los Angeles and his Pauson House (1940) north of Phoenix,” says architectural historian Bob Inman. The home is in an area which suffered great damage but its status is unconfirmed.
- Frank Gehry’s Borman House: A playfully designed “beach bunker” on ritzy Broad Beach. Status unknown.
- Frank Gehry’s Tin House: An early Gehry work, it’s also known as the Ron Davis House, as the dwelling was built for the abstract painter and is clad in corrugated galvanized steel and exposed plywood. KTLA 5 aerial footage from November 11 shows the neighborhood with many burned houses, but the home itself is out of frame.
- Craig Ellwood’s Pierson House: A modern box on PCH that had been recently restored. Status unknown.
- Herbert Kameon’s DeVault Residence: This “little slice of heaven” is believed to be Kameon’s first residential commission. Status unknown.
- Duke’s: No damage to the beachfront restaurant, according to the Malibu Times.
- Getty Villa: The Villa was not threatened, according to a blog post on its site, and all art and archives are secure. The museum plans to reopen Friday, November 23.
- Malibu Country Mart: The shopping and dining complex suffered no damage, a representative confirmed to the Malibu Times.
- Malibu Pier: No damage, according to the Malibu Times.
- Neptune’s Net: The iconic seaside fish market and biker bar has not been damaged, according to the Malibu Times.
- Paradise Cove Cafe: The beachfront bar and restaurant was saved, per the cafe’s Facebook post. It will reopen Friday, November 23.
- Shangri-La recording studio: Built in the 1970s to the specifications of The Band and Bob Dylan, the Zuma Beach recording studio is owned by Rick Rubin, co-president of Columbia Records. Status unknown.
- The Peach House: The most famous structure of Barbra Streisand’s multi-mansion Malibu estate, which she donated to the state as open space, has been completely lost, according to the Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority. Four other buildings were saved in what is now known as Ramirez Canyon Park.
- Wave House: The striking copper-roofed home that juts out onto Nicholas Canyon Beach was designed by Harry Gesner, who completed a number of other iconic beach houses in the area, including his own home, Sandcastle House, and Eagle’s Watch (which had previously been destroyed by a fire). “As far as his own house [and] the Wave House... all good,” reports Lisa Stoddard via email. “The others, I don’t know.”
- 747 Wing House: Made from a decommissioned 747 jet, the home was designed by David Hertz in 2011. Status unknown.
- Pepperdine University: On a tense Friday night, over 1,200 students sheltered in place on the campus—a policy students and faculty have followed for three decades—as flames licked at the Malibu college’s edge. Some outbuildings were lost, but the fire-resistant campus designed by William Pereira and Associates in the early ‘70s was not damaged.
- John Lautner’s Stevens’ House: Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2009, the striking concrete home features a roof “composed of two... curved concrete shells.” Status unknown.
- Thelma Todd Beach House: No damage. The beach house was outside of the area impacted by fire.
Malibu canyons and parks
- Sepulveda Adobe: The 155-year-old adobe (pictured above) has been reduced to “just a shell,” per Barbara Tejada, an archeologist with California State Parks. The adobe was built in 1863 by homesteaders who raised 12 children in the dwelling and grew corn, beans, potatoes, turnips, and onions on the surrounding land, near Las Virgenes Creek. The adobe survived the Northridge earthquake and was only just recently restored.
- M*A*S*H set [Updated 12/27]: A replica of the set from the TV series M*A*S*H that’s become a popular hiking destination in Malibu Creek State Park was nearly destroyed by fire (the original set was burned in a brush fire in 1982). It was initially reported that the set burned again in the Woolsey Fire, but park officials later said the set survived. A replica of the iconic signpost seen on the show appears to have been slightly singed. “People don’t realize they’ve been watching movies all their lives that took place here,” Tim Johnston, a retired firefighter and park docent, told the Los Angeles Times. “Their mom’s been watching all her life. Even their grandma has been watching all her life.”
- Blandings House: A Colonial Revival home built in 1947 to film the 1948 comedy Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House is used as offices for the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. Status unknown.
- King Gillette Ranch: The Spanish Colonial complex designed by Wallace Neff in 1929 is now a visitors’ center that’s home to the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy offices. The center is closed but has not suffered damage.
And here's what it looks now. Photo courtesy of Friends of Morrison Ranch House pic.twitter.com/Hbfu4PSKoa— Santa Monica Mtns (@SantaMonicaMtns) November 12, 2018
- Malibu Hindu Temple: The gleaming white temple was built by Hindu workers in the 1980s. The temple is unscathed, according to its website: “Temple standing as tall as always in the middle of many other structures destroyed in and around the Temple.”
- Calamigos Ranch: The beautiful wedding venue and longtime community fixture had been reported lost by FOX LA but the owner later confirmed the property has been saved.
- Malibu Wines and Saddle Rock Ranch: The popular Mulholland Highway vineyard and animal park shared images to Instagram reporting it had lost multiple structures and was still looking for some animals. Malibu Cafe is still standing.
- Reagan Ranch: The former president’s property, now part of Malibu Creek State Park, is shown in a Getty Image photo with flames encroaching on the ranch.
- Camp Hess Kramer and Camp Hilltop: At two summer camps owned by the Wilshire Boulevard Temple, most of the buildings have been destroyed, reports NBC Los Angeles. The camps also hosted retreats for other youth groups, including a conference attended by prominent Chicano leaders. Over 200 students attending a retreat at the camp were evacuated on the day the fire broke out.
- Malibu Creek State Park: Much of the parkland burned but the visitor center survived, thanks to a fast-acting ranger who turned on the recently refurbished sprinkler system, according to an Instagram post.
- Case Study House No. 28: The last Case Study house to be built by Arts & Architecture magazine was completed in Thousand Oaks in 1966. Architects Buff & Hensman created two symmetrical wings joined by glass galleries. Joanne Martinez, who grew up around the corner from the house, tells Curbed the home is not in danger. “I’m still in touch with neighbors there and can tell you that the entire neighborhood is safe at this time.”
- Guillermo del Toro’s “Bleak House”: The director owns two mansions decked out with horror film props and ephemera to inspire him while he works. He tweeted that he’d evacuated and his collection was “endangered,” but Saturday confirmed the house was still standing.
Simi Valley and Simi Hills
- Santa Susana Field Laboratory: The former Rocketdyne laboratory was badly damaged by fire and concerns about radioactive waste at the nuclear research facility have surfaced. State Sen. Henry Stern promised at a town hall to urge governor-elect Gavin Newsom to order an independent investigation to determine if toxins were released by flames.
- Ulmar House: An eclectic 1939 house built by architect Terry Ulmar. Status unknown.
- Frank Gehry’s Sirmai-Peterson House: A model of the home was among those acquired by the Getty Research Institute in 2017. Status unknown.