“Treasure Made of Trash” — Nitt Witt Ridge, Cambria, CA

Once an hour, a piece of white trash will come down and give you some trash talk… And remember my friends, stay dirty.” — Owner and tour guide, Mike O’Malley

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One man’s trash truly is another man’s treasure, as proven by Nitt Witt Ridge. This California Registered Historical Landmark was built completely by alternative artist Arthur “Art” Harold Beal by himself over 50 years of creative construction work.

He bought the Cambrian hillside land in 1928 and for the next 50 years continued to create his proclaimed “poor man’s castle” from various objects he found stole from his job as a garbageman during his brief work at Hearst Castle.

Beer cans, abalone shells, car parts, and toilet seat covers are just some of the materials featured for the foundational work and decor of his palace. It’s a special place with a rich history behind it.

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When you arrive to the property don’t be alarmed to find a sign that reads “human waste at “#.” It just represents the time the next tour will take place which is usually every hour on the hour. A $10 cash donation is asked per person- well worth it with all of the amazing information you receive from the tour guide Mike. Mike is so distinctly passionate about spreading the history of this Art’s legacy. He’s an expert on the history of the house and about Art’s life.

Mike greets you at the door and shows you around each room of the house one by one from the kitchen to his “extra room” where Art frequented “lady guests” to his own bedroom (which is hauntingly well put together). Mike’s witty sense of humor made the tour extra enjoyable…

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Feminine lady guest bedroom

He even shows us a video (on a TV hooked up to a car battery, how resourceful) of Art from back when he was building the house.

Art died at the age of 96 in 1992. In 1999 Michael and Stacey O’Malley became the owners of the property. It’s humbling to observe how much time, effort, and care Art put into building this house from the ground up- and the O’Malleys’ passion for keeping the legacy of the landmark alive is apparent in the enthusiasm Mike shows in his tours of the house. 

Art’s ashes are scattered around the redwood up outside by the court yard area. It definitely feels like you can sense his presence watching over you when you’re walking through (his) house, so just be respectful of what he (probably still) considers prided living space.

This was by far the most unique Central Coast experience I have gotten to enjoy so far- and I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a quirky activity, off the beaten path!

UPDATE 2020: The property is now for sale! If you’re interested, check out the details here.

For more information, visit the website here.

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