881 Hillcrest Dr. Cambria, CA 93428

(805) 927-2690 nitwitridge@yahoo.com

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Art Beal, born in Oakland of Irish and Native American parentage, spent much of his childhood in orphanages.  He built a three-level fantasy environment from collected materials in Cambria, which locals called the Poor Man's Hearst Castle.  This has a literal basis, as some construction material was scavenged from the Hearst estate.  It helped that Beal was a local trash hauler, and had difficulty discarding things.  He believed that everything could and should be reused.  He salvaged nails and screws from old boards, and organized them in old glass jars.  With pick ax and shovel, he hollowed out the 2.5 acre hillside in Cambria, using collected trash as landfill, to create an intricate network of terraced gardens, buildings, ornamental stone arches, fountains and walkways.  He did this, declared proudly, with only two helpers, Mother Earth and Dame Nature.  When Art was forced to leave in 1989, the building remained vacant and continued to deteriorate for almost a decade, when the site was purchased by Michael and Stacey O'Malley, who immediately embarked on their huge restoration project.  This is as much a labor of love for the O'Malley's, as building Nit Wit Ridge had been for Beal, in the first place.  The building is a time capsule of earlier decades, precisely because Beal never threw away anything.  The cabinet drawers and closets contain his clothing, (including the signature faded blue bathrobe), old letters, newspaper clippings, calendars, food tins and bedding.  All are on display for visitors.  History makes all things equal; today, both Nit Wit Ridge and Hearst Castle are state historical landmarks.  Or as Beal would say, "Hysterical Landmarks".  Nit Wit Ridge has been featured on AMC's Ride with Norman Reedus, Billy Connolly's Tracks across America!  Travel Channel's Ultimate Road trips and of course Huell Howser's California's Gold.  Come visit soon!  Or contact us with any questions at nitwitridge@yahoo.com



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