Louise Speaks: As we continue heading south along the beautiful coastline of California we come upon the town of Cambria. Cambria is also known as the “City of Pines by the Sea”. The reason for this is that it is a seaside community, but you feel like you are in the woods with all the pine trees around. It’s hard to understand how pine trees that require cold weather, would survive so close to the warmth of the salt sea. Yet no matter how cute…no matter how inviting…nothing could prepare us for the Nitt Witt Ridge.
As if that introduction isn’t enough, we actually had a reservation to tour this place. We also agreed to pay $10.00 to tour this place. And when we arrived, we had to wait because there were others before us, taking the tour. At least that made us feel better, that we weren’t the only crazy ones on the planet paying to see this house. I must say, this is probably the most bizarre stop to date.
They say one man’s junk is another man’s treasure, and that is certainly the case with Nitt Witt Ridge. We took a tour of something odd and quirky, a house you have got to see to believe. Sitting on 2.5 acres, this folk-art attraction offers a Tom Sawyer-like feel from the moment you step onto the property. Nitt Witt Ridge offers a fun contrast to the immaculately curated mansion of Hearst Castle. The property is owned and maintained by Mike O’Malley, who gives tours regularly. Mike was a great tour guide. As quirky as this place is, he did make it interesting.
Originally owned by Arthur “Art” Harold Beal in 1928, this “castle on a hill” was perfected using only a pick and shovel. This home was built on property that Art Beal didn’t even own. It was built without permits and with materials he rescued from the garbage that people threw away as he was the local garbage collector. He didn’t accept help in building it and lived there in unison with Mother Nature. By this it is meant that the Mother Nature helped in the cleaning of his living room by winter rains washing in one door across the floor and out the other. He would help clean the floors by sweeping the rain water out with his broom. Look closely and you will see a blend of native materials and modern elements, including old beer cans, washer drums, car rims and car parts, among other things. After Beals death in 1992, his ashes were spread around his favorite redwood tree in the back of Nitt Witt Ridge. The cobblestone archways and rare composition make this site a place to see.
When you get to the top of the property, OMG….there is a view to die for. The entire Pacific Ocean can be seen, including ships in the distance. The view alone makes this property one valuable piece of land. We asked Mike why doesn’t he tear it down and build a house where he can enjoy that view. Well it turns out since no permits were ever issued, there are no utilities going to the property. Not even water. For him to bring utilities in would cost him more than the property is worth. The city will not help him in any way, even though I’m sure it is quite the eye sore for the many neighbors. As we were waiting our turn to tour Nitt Witt Ridge, cars that drove by from the neighboring homes, gave us looks, like why are you helping this guy.
I do have to admit however, that some things were very cleaver. His picture frames over the fireplace,
the his and her toilets, so you can share everything with the one you love,
and the hub cap steps that reflect in the sun, so you won’t miss a step.
All in all it was an interesting place, and I couldn’t imagine living next door, although there were homes right next to the Nitt Witt Ridge. The advertising for Nitt Witt Ridge, call it a landmark and a definite must-see when in the Cambria area. I’m not sure about that, but then again we stopped to see it. Oh and by the way, this wasn’t in Patricia’s Book, “1000 Places To See Before You Die”, which means it probably should be…lol