Nitt Witt Ridge
881 Hillcrest Drive, Cambria, CA, USA
Nitt Witt Ridge Cambria Reviews
Good Lord, I don't know - - A strangely artistic home :D Aug 19, 2008
If or when you are in Cambria, California there is a unique place to visit. The name is “Nitt Witt Ridge” and it is located at 881 Hillcrest Dr., well above the main part of town. This property was owned by Arthur Harold Beal, known as “Der Tinkerpaw” or “Captain Nitt Witt”, who bought it as a lot in 1928. Art was an artist and disliked the upper crust society for their tendency to discard what he thought were “good” things. He started with a very small one room structure near the very top of the hill with a small workshop near it. Over the next 50 years he built a unique home/castle using only a pick, shovel and hand tools. He was one of the first recyclers, using anything and everything he could get his hands on. During the 40s and 50s he was Cambria’s trash man, hauling off everyone’s trash and burying most of it on his property. At one point he even was hired by Hearst Castle, not to far away, to haul off unwanted items. The property sits on a very steep hillside and so there are many steps and nine levels of gardens, patios, and terraces. The house itself is four stories. His artistic side always showed, like the front on every step is inset with large colorful abalone shells, and almost all doorways, gates and walk-throughs with arches. The handrails along the steps are working water pipes that help water the gardens, plants and trees that cover the property. In 1981 prior to his death the State of California noted it with a "Twentieth Century Folk Art Environments (Thematic)" landmark marker #939. After Art died in 1992 at the age of 96, his ashes were spread around his favorite redwood on Nitt Witt Ridge.
The house lay deserted for ten years until 1999 when it was purchased by Michael O’Malley and his wife, who went in and cleaned it up a little and discovered that even though several things had gone missing from scavengers during its vacancy, there were still can goods, clothing, and even Mr. Beal’s zipper collection. Nothing went to waste.
The day we were there, they were offering tours but the next one was three hours away so we missed it.
Today if you call first, you can get a guided tour.
Part of the Escape from Reality II travel blog
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