“A folk art mecca in Cambria!”
This quirky house made of beer cans and other items of trash is worth the trip to at least see and believe. Nitt Witt Ridge is a house on two-and-a-half-acres in Cambria, California, United States. Artist/recluse Arthur "Art" Harold Beal (d. 1992) bought his hillside lot in 1928, and spent most of the next 50 years carving out the terraces with only a pick and shovel, and creating his own "castle on a hill." Arthur Harold Beal is known as Der Tinkerpaw or Captain Nitt Witt. Beal was garbage collector for the town of Cambria in the 1940s and '50s, and made good use of what Cambrians were throwing away, as well as the natural materials on the property, in the nearby pine forests, and on the area's beaches. Some parts are also reportedly remnants from Hearst Castle where he reportedly worked for a time. Other common building materials are beer cans, abalone shells, and concrete. There are also washer drums, car rims, tile, car parts, and old stoves. After Art died in 1992 at the age of 96, his ashes were spread around his favorite redwood on Nitt Witt Ridge. The house still is full of knicknacks and architectural uniqueness, despite the deterioration and ransacking it suffered after Art's death. In 1999 Michael and Stacey O'Malley became the owners of Nitt Witt Ridge. They have repaired some of the house and cleaned up the gardens. Their enthusiasm for Nitt Witt Ridge is apparent in Michael's guided tours of the property. Tours are available by reservation only and include a four-minute video. Nitt Witt Ridge is California Historical Landmark No. 939. It is considered a thematic landmark, in connection with the Twentieth Century Folk Art Environments. The plaque reads: Nitt Witt Ridge, one of California's remarkable twentieth-century folk-art environments, is the creation of Arthur Harold Beal (Der Tinkerpaw, or Capt. Nitt Witt), a Cambria Pines pioneer who sculpted the land using hand tools and indigenous materials, inventiveness and self-taught skills. A blend of native materials and contemporary elements, impressive in its sheer mass and meticulous placement, it is a revealing memorial to Art's cosmic humor and zest for life. California Registered Historical Landmark No. 939. Plaque placed by the State Department of Parks and Recreation in cooperation for saving and preserving arts and cultural environments with the Art Beal Foundation, non-profit and educational corporation. June 26, 1986.
he 2.5 acre house is called the “poor Hearst Castle,” due to the nature of its creation: garbage, beach debris, and materials tossed out by the real Hearst Castle. It has a folksy vibe and although made of 2nd hand material, the house omits a quirky and welcoming attraction.
You can book a tour of Nit Wit Castle with the new owner, Mike O’Malley. You’ll get to learn the history of the house while walking through the creatively curated rooms made from all salvaged materials. As they say, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”
Oh my if you are in the area stop by and hear the story about this house the owner and the towns people. Mike and his wife are very accommodating, but do have other jobs too! Just call when you have an idea of a time and one of them will be there. Donation is $20.00 cash or more if you feel it's worth it-help out! It is a great place with a lot of crazy history. We just parked across from the house and waited by the gate until Mike came and let us in. I wouldn't recommend taken really young kids, they just wouldn't get it!
This place was literally a hidden treasure. Owner and tour guide, Mike, was such a gem. We came on a Sunday (Super Bowl Sunday) The place looks blocked off but there was a sign that said 'next tour at 4' so we waited about 5 minutes and Mike comes out, waving us over. The tour is about 35 minutes with lots of stories about the place and the legend that built this majestic house. I recommend stopping by if you're in the area! The upkeep of the place is funded by the tours. Cash only.
We drove by around 5pm on a Sunday, so we weren't sure if it was closed because of the time, but it seemed fenced off and permanently closed. I could be wrong
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Nitt Witt Ridge
- Sun, Tue - Thu, Sat: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
- Mon, Fri: 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm
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