Historical Architecture & Gardens

Cambria is filled with beautiful structures many of which are historical.  We have selected some of the better known of these architectural wonders that can be toured while on vacation.  There are also several local gardens that are quite enjoyable to view.  Take a nice drive while you are in Cambria and learn about these wonderful attractions.

Andy’s Garden (Park Hill)

Directions: Take Windsor Boulevard past Shamel Community Park to Worcester Drive, turn left onto Worcester up the hill to the corner of Worcester Drive and Guildford Drive.
Begin clocking your mileage from this point.

A privately maintained park on Park Hill. It is a beautifully landscaped corner park with benches for public enjoyment.

Nitt Witt Ridge

Directions: From Worcester Drive, turn onto Guildford Drive going north and then left on Leighton Street, turn right onto Windsor Boulevard and follow it to Highway 1.  Cross over Highway 1 and turn right onto Main Street.  When you reach Cornwall Street turn left, then right onto Hillcrest Drive and wind up the hill until you see the Nitt Witt Ridge landmark on the left. 
1.3 miles from Andy’s Garden

Nitt Witt Ridge, a California Registered Historical Landmark #939, is a house on two-and-a-half-acres in Cambria. Artist/recluse Arthur “Art” Harold Beal (d. 1992) bought his hillside lot in 1928 and spent most of the next 50 years carving out the terraces with only a pick and shovel and creating his own “castle on a hill.” 

Arthur Harold Beal, also known as Der Tinkerpaw or Captain Nitt Witt, was a garbage collector for the town of Cambria in the 1940s and 1950s. He made good use of what Cambrians were throwing away, as well as natural materials on the property, in the nearby pine forests and on the area’s beaches. Some parts of the dwelling are remnants from Hearst Castle where he reportedly worked for a time. Other common building materials include: beer cans, abalone shells, concrete, washer drums, car rims, tile, car parts and old stoves. This blend of native materials and contemporary elements, impressive in its sheer mass and meticulous placement, is a revealing memorial to Art’s unique cosmic humor and zest for life.

Information: Nitt Witt Ridge, 881 Hillcrest Dr, Cambria, CA

Donate to the Non Profit Art Beal Foundation. 

Call 805-927-2690 to schedule a 40 min. tour. Suggested donation is $10 per person.

Greystone Manor

Directions: Take Hillcrest up the hill to Oakhurst Drive, turn left onto Oakhurst Drive, then right onto Greystone Way.  The Manor is on the left.
.4 miles from Nitt Witt Ridge

Greystone Manor is a property with a rich past and a marvelous presence. This grand English Tudor Mansion, circa 1920, was built by the original developers of Cambria as their own home around the same time as Hearst Castle.  It is a historic Cambria landmark and includes a main Manor plus guest cottage and Carriage House. 

Greystone Manor is located in a very private and desirable sunny neighborhood backing up to a 1,600 acre forest preserve, yet only five minutes from ocean and beaches. The luxurious estate is over 9,600 square feet on 1.3 acres amid graceful moss-filled Oaks and a variety of other trees including a 100 foot Eucalyptus given to Greystone by Hearst. Winding brick paths meander through beautiful gardens inclusive of huge private courtyards. Original covered walkways and horse hitching posts are still here. The sunny knoll upon which Greystone Manor rests stays above the fog and is on average 5-10 degrees warmer than the rest of Cambria.

According to local history, some of the materials used to build the home were originally purchased by William Randolph Hearst and were gifted or sold to the original owner. These items may be seen today and are still in their original condition. The main home on the estate, built with beautiful local Carmel stone, features a dramatic pitched roof and 12’ ceilings. What is now the master suite was originally the surveyor’s mess hall and a dressing room which was formerly a vault used for storing and securing land grants. The living room has a French Chateau ceiling brought originally from Europe, gorgeous woodwork, stone floors and a custom carved mantle from Hearst Castle. An original 1920’s Carriage House with hay loft has also been preserved and is also located on this stunning property.

Cambria is an artist’s community and Greystone Manor for years was at the hub of the art world. Greystone Galleries housed Cambria’s first art galleries and was home to Phil Paradise and Arne Nybak, two of the Central Coast’s most famous artists. There was a sign on Highway 1 directing visitors to Greystone Galleries where concerts were held on the lawn.

Pinedorado Grounds/The Jailhouse

Directions: Follow Greystone Way to Hartford Drive, turn left onto Hartford Drive, left onto Pineknolls Drive, then downhill to Main Street. Turn left onto Main Street and follow it until you see the Veteran’s Memorial Hall and the Light Station Fresnel Lens. .7 miles from Greystone Manor

Since 1949, celebrating Labor Day weekend in Cambria has meant Pinedorado Days, an event recognizing Cambria’s rich history. An old-fashioned parade, barbecues, kids games, prizes, face-painting, food booths, kiddy cars, the Cambria Follies and an art show are some of the festivities.  Most events are free. The Pinedorado Annual Car Show, which usually draws over 150 cars, is held on Sunday. 

The car show is open to all makes and models with classifications and awards for: Mustangs, Corvettes, T-Birds, Foreign Cars and the list goes on. There are awards, dash plaques, goodie bags, lunch, raffle prizes and T-Shirts.

The Pinedorado Grounds are used for other events throughout the year including, among others, the Annual Chile Cook-Off and Car Show every April. For more information, visit www.Pinedorado.com.

Piedras Blancas Light Station Fresnel Lens

This is the same location as the Pinedorado Grounds/The Jailhouse
0 miles from the Pinedorado Grounds/Jailhouse

The original lens and clockwork mechanism are on display next to the Veteran’s Memorial Building.

The first order fresnel lens used at Piedras Blancas Light Station was constructed in France by Henri Lapaute in 1872.  On loan from the Coast Guard to the Cambria Lion’s Club, the lens is maintained by the non-profit Friends of the Piedras Blancas Light Station Lens. In 1990, a glass enclosure was built by the Friends to protect the historic artifact.

Rotary Peace through Service Garden/ American Legion

Same location as the Pinedorado Grounds/The Jailhouse
0 miles from the Piedras Blancas Fresnel Lens but in the parking lot area near Main Street

The Rotary Peace through Service Garden is a living memorial dedicated January 11, 2014 by the Rotary Clubs of Cambria and the American Legion. This collaborative effort was created to beautify the area surrounding the Veteran’s Memorial Building parking area for the enjoyment of Cambria residents, as well as visitors to our town.  It honors those in our community who have helped to preserve peace in our nation through their service in the armed services. 

It was inspired by Rotary International’s (RI) quest for world “Peace through Service” to mankind, RI’s theme for the year 2012-2013. With grateful appreciation to the Cambria Community Services District and the County of San Luis Obispo for donation of the Peace Garden site and the adjacent sidewalk, a Rotary International Grant and several local supporters and donors, as well as many hours of donated time and labor, this project reached completion. There is a large Monument Plaque near the entrance of the Garden that thanks the many donors that made this Garden possible.

Cambria Pines Lodge Gardens

Directions: Return to Main Street going south.  Turn right onto Cambria Drive, left onto Highway 1, left onto Burton Drive and curve to the right.  Turn left onto Patterson Place and pull into the Cambria Pines Lodge parking lot.  The garden entrance is to the right of the main reception building and trails wind throughout the lodge property.
1.5 miles from the Veteran’s Memorial Building/Fresnel Lens

Cambria Pines Lodge offers extensive grounds and gardens. The Herb Garden, Succulent Garden, Flower Bed, Green Garden, Gazebo Garden, White Garden, Rose Garden and Organic Kitchen Garden mingle with lawn areas, secluded pathways, ancient pine trees and outdoor dining areas to make a garden paradise.

The gardens are constantly being updated and expanded. They offer something for everyone. Sit at the top of one of the forested hills and paint a picture of the surrounding hills framed by a series of pine trees. Rest on a secluded bench protected from the midsummer sun by a formal hedge, or sit by one of the many fountains located throughout the property.

Greenspace Preserve – Chinese Temple

Directions: From the Cambria Pines Lodge parking lot turn left onto Patterson, left onto Burton Drive until it ends at Eton (Cambria Nursery).  Turn left onto Burton Drive going downhill, cross the bridge and turn right onto Main Street.  At Bridge Street turn right, then right onto Center Street and park.  The Chinese Temple is on the left
.9 miles from Cambria Pines Lodge Gardens

This property was once Cambria’s historical “Chinese Center,” the social focus for workers who harvested seaweed and abalone for shipment back to China, or worked in local quicksilver (mercury) mines in the mountains. Here local Chinese celebrated holidays, gambled, socialized and worshiped. Buildings included a bunkhouse, laundries, cabins and a structure people have called the “Chinese Temple.” 

The Temple had fraternal and religious uses serving the Chee Kong Tong. Of the structures that served the Chinese Center, only the Chinese Temple remains. Buildings like this are rare in California, so it has been restored and will be preserved and its significance explained with interpretive exhibits.

The Chinese left the site about 1916 and the Warren family purchased the property. The older and less stable buildings were eventually torn down, leaving only the Chinese temple near the creek and a building facing Center Street that dates from between 1895-1906.

About 1919, a building from Main Street was moved and joined to the Center Street structure to form a kitchen. Then in 1925 the former Chinese Temple was moved from near the creek and was added to the existing structures making a house of three parts, known as the Red House. This composite structure was occupied until 1970. In 2001, the dilapidated portions of the house were demolished, leaving only the original Temple building.

Henry Williams built the original structure for George and Bertha Rothschild in 1873. German-born merchants Abram and Johanna Gans owned the house and expansive lot for 43 years. After Abram’s death, Mrs. Gans moved to San Francisco and allowed the local Chinese community to construct a social hall, two laundries, several small houses and festival facilities at the rear of the lot. In 1916, William and Lily Messic Warren bought and enlarged the house. The Warrens brought together the Chinese social hall and B.H. Franklin’s store (originally Cambria’s first high school) and added them to the original structure to create a house that three generations owned and occupied for 80 years.

Cambria Historical Museum and Heirloom Gardens

Directions: To the right of the Chinese Temple, on the corner of Center and Bridge Streets, is the Cambria Historical Museum and Heirloom Gardens. 
.0 miles from the Chinese Temple

The Cambria Historical Museum was originally one of Cambria’s oldest homes, the Guthrie-Bianchini House, built in 1870 by Thomas Clendinen. This lovely old building sits on the corner of Burton Drive and Center Street in Cambria’s East Village. For many years, the house remained unoccupied and sank into disrepair as heirs and other interested parties fought over the estate. In the early 1980s, some Cambria businessmen sought to have the house torn down and replaced with a parking lot.  But, community opposition and the discovery that the property had been listed on the National Register of Historic Places squelched the parking lot idea. The Cambria Historical Society purchased the property at a court-ordered sale in 2001, ending what has been referred to as “the state’s longest probate.” The Society spent years restoring the home and then opened it as a museum in December 2008. 

The original house, a small “salt box,” was sold in 1882 to Benjamin Franklin (rumored to be a relative of THE Benjamin Franklin). Mr. Franklin added on to the house and within a year sold it to Mrs. Sarah Guthrie, who made the purchase with her own money. Her husband, Samuel Guthrie, was a successful businessman who was employed by and later owned the Grant & Lull Store on the corner of Bridge and Main streets. Mr. Guthrie retired in 1903 and died two years later. His wife kept the house until 1916 when she sold it to Eugenio Bianchini, a Swiss immigrant who arrived by steamer at the port of San Simeon in 1878.

In 1889, Mr. Bianchini married Louisa Bezzini and they had seven children, four boys and three girls. Over the years, he was a dairyman, owned butcher shops in Cayucos and Cambria and worked at the Oceanic Quicksilver Mine. He was known as the “master of the barbecue” and he reportedly “imported” whisky from Canada, picking it up by boat north of San Simeon and selling it during Prohibition. He also owned at least two ranches, one of which was at the mouth of Pico Creek and today is known as San Simeon Acres.

After Mr. Bianchini’s death, family members continued to live in the house. His son, James, widely known as “Spider,” was the last Bianchini to occupy the home.

The Heirloom Gardens are an ongoing a project of love and are continually in process of being restored to the time period of the original owners, circa 1870 to 1940. The most outstanding items on the grounds are the Port Oford Cedars, circa 1906. They towering trees are the oldest living of their type found this far south of their point of origin in Oregon. Another notable plant is the Autumn Damask Rose which is the earliest of that rose type to be propagated. Many of the roses on the property were taken from clippings of roses found on the Hearst Castle grounds. Other unique flowers are the Ruffled Daffodils transplanted from Cambria historic homes in the area, Four O’clock flowers that have been on the property since its beginning and several plantings taken from clippings at the Fiscalini family home. Another favorite are the Dahlia trees seen displaying glorious white blossoms in season that resemble elaborate Christmas ornaments. The Museum Gardens enjoy a European influence because of the past ownerships by Italian, Swiss and Portuguese immigrants. Other influences on the plant life of this property come from its community history of Mexican, Spanish and native Indian populations.

For more information about the Museum and its grounds, visit the website at www.cambriahistoricalsociety.com/.

Old Santa Rosa Chapel, Gardens and Cemetery

Directions: Turn right onto Burton Drive, then right onto Main Street, past Bridge Street and the entrance to the Santa Rosa Chapel, Gardens and Cemetery is on the left.  Drive up the steep hill.  Parking is available.
.9 miles from the Cambria Historical Society

The Santa Rosa Chapel, a National Historic Registry landmark and one of the oldest churches in the County, was built in 1870. The final Mass was celebrated in the Chapel on May 26, 1963. After its closing, the Chapel, Gardens and Cemetery fell into a state of neglect and disrepair incurring vandalism.

In 1978, Cambria natives Marina Curti and Clementine Newman formed the Santa Rosa Chapel committee and spearheaded the restoration project for seven years. The Chapel was rededicated for community use on September 16, 1984 and is available for special occasions and weddings.

The Cemetery is the final resting place for many Cambria Pioneers including members from the Phelan, Pereira, Cantua and Fiscalini families.

More Information: 805-927-5212 or info@santarosachapel.com

Covell Clydesdale Ranch

Directions: From the Old Santa Rosa Chapel, take a right onto Main Street, then a right onto Bridge Street.  Drive to the top of the hill and before you reach the Cambria Community Cemetery, on the right is the gate for the Covell Ranch.  Covell Tours are by appointment only.  Access to the property is not permitted without prior arrangement.
1 mile from the Old Santa Rosa Chapel

There is one place on earth where can you experience approximately 100 head of Clydesdale horses grazing on nearly 2,000 acres of rolling pastures speckled with pristine Monterey Pines and overlooking an exquisite view of the Pacific Ocean. That place is Covell Clydesdale Ranch, home to Covell’s California Clydesdales. 

Covell Clydesdale Ranch is located on the Central Coast of California in the beautiful town of Cambria. The ranch is home at any given time to approximately 100 Clydesdale horses of all ages, sizes and abilities for riding and/or driving. Over 20 mares are bred a year providing a continuous supply of young horses waiting to be the next hitch horse, halter horse, pleasure horse, riding horse, dressage prospect, brood mare, stallion or maybe just a companion.

Ralph Covell strives to breed the best quality horses with the size, action, conformation and temperament to excel in and out of the show ring. His home-bred stallion, California Pines by the Sea Sunshine Boy, placed in Stallion Cart 1st at the 2007 World Clydesdale Show making him the World Champion Clydesdale Cart Stallion. Covell has also done exceptionally well with his mares in several classes, all the way up to the 6 horse hitch. Covell Clydesdale horses have been highlighted in the new Miller Light Dalmatian commercials.

Besides the Clydesdales, another outstanding feature of the Ranch is that it is one of only 5 natural stands of Monterey Pines in the world and is one of the largest and most pristine. The forest is protected by a nature conservancy easement that ensures it will never be developed or destroyed.

Ralph Covell, owner of the stunning Covell Clydesdale Ranch, will guide you on a tour where you will not only enjoy the company of the Clydesdales and view the incredible vistas, you will also learn the history of the Ranch and hear how Covell’s vision extends to hydroponically growing feed for these noble draft horses.

To view the Covell Clydesdale Ranch land and the grandeur of the Clydesdales, tours are now available for booking. To arrange a tour or for additional information, call (805) 927-3398 or e-mail CovellsClydesdales@mac.com.

Website: www.covellsclydesdales.com

Cambria Community Cemetery

Directions: Drive down the driveway of the Old Santa Rosa Chapel, Gardens and Cemetery and turn right onto Main Street, turn right onto Bridge Street and drive up the winding road to the Cambria Community Cemetery.
0 miles from the Covell Clydesdale Ranch

The Cambria Community Cemetery, officially known as the Cambria Cemetery District, truly the only California cemetery located in the pine trees near the ocean. The Cemetery land was donated by George Leffingwell in 1870 and was deeded to the San Simeon Masonic Lodge in 1877. In 1940, the San Luis Obispo County set up boundaries and created special districts for the 11 cemeteries in the County. 

The Cemetery District is a non-profit tax supported agency governed by a three-member Board of Trustees.

The Cemetery is 12.2 acres in size and is in the middle of the largest stand of Monterey Pines in the State of California. There are over 1,200 trees on the grounds ranging from Monterey Pines, Coastal Live Oaks, Toyon trees, California Pepper trees and various other native flowers and grasses.
 
Some statistics on the Cemetery:
 
• Wooden headstones -120
• Earliest born -1798
• Oldest person over 100 years old – 5 individuals
• Unknown children – 6 individuals
• Unknown graves – 80 graves
• Veterans – 320+ individuals
• Earliest marked grave – Greenup Scott – 9-21-1870
 
The Cemetery allows families of the interred to place bird feeders and baths, wind chimes and other personal items on the grave sites. Benches are provided by the families. The large amount of trees allows the Cemetery to be inventive on interment sites. This adds to the uniqueness of the grounds. Headstones range from inscribed granite rock, metal and military issued, to beautiful carved marble.  Of the wooden headstones 80 have no names as they have washed off over the years and records were poorly kept. Most of the children that died at childbirth prior to 1900 have no first names.

Highway Closures

Highway 1 Closure

If you're heading to the Central Coast, be sure to be mindful of the stretch of Highway 1, 21 miles north of Cambria. Caltrans is busy with a major construction project to make traveling along the stunning Pacific Coast Highway a safer journey.

Highway 1 Storm Repair Along the Big Sur Coast Due to multiple active slides, State Route 1 is now closed between Ragged Pt. (SLO 72.87) and just south of Nepenthe (Mon 44).

Worried about Highway 1 Road Closures? Cambria and Hearst Castle are easily accessible from Highway 46 West from 101 South of Paso Robles or from northbound Highway 1 from the city of San Luis Obispo. Travelers from the north can easily take Highway 101 as an alternate route to Highway 1, which reduces travel time to Cambria by about 25 minutes.

For the latest road closure information visit the Caltrans website.