Beer Cans, Tire Rims, And A Passion For Life

After maybe 30 years of driving by and gawking at it, I finally got me a looksee inside Art Beal’s house this past weekend.

Art’s abode is in Cambria, just an hour north of us and only six miles south of the famous Hearst Castle.

If you’re driving up Hillcrest Drive, you can’t miss the darn thing.

It’s, well, kinda distinctive.

So much so, in fact, that Nitt Witt Ridge is designated California Registered Historical Landmark No. 939.

Beal started carving terraces into his two-and-a-half-acre hillside in 1928. Then, being Cambria’s garbage collector, he spent more than 50 years constructing his little bit ’o heaven outta tire rims, abalone shells, beer cans, chunks of concrete, driftwood, shards of tile, old toilets, you name it.

Is this “poor man’s Hearst Castle” an eyesore?


But it’s also evidence of a passionate man who had a kooky vision and pursued it to the end. (Art’s end came in 1992 at age 96.)

Another passionate fella is Mike O’Malley.

Mike’s the guy who showed us around the Ridge on Saturday. Back in 1999, he drove past the house for the very first time, saw a “For Sale” sign on it, and couldn’t resist plunking down the moola.

Now, O’Malley works in the area as a plumber and on weekends gives by-appointment-only tours of the Nitt Witt property.

His passion is preserving the legacy of Art Beal and Nitt Witt Ridge, and keeping the house from falling down the hill.

You can see Art Beal’s passion in the house itself.

You can feel Mike O’Malley’s passion in every funny story he tells when he conducts his tour.

Bet you could build yourself a helluva business and lifestyle with that kinda passion —

If you ever meander up the California coast and get a chance, check out Art Beal’s castle.

Go on. Get passionate.

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