Grandma Prisbrey's Bottle Village

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Grandma Prisbrey's Bottle Village is tucked away in a small residential neighborhood of Simi Valley, California. In an area one-third of an acre, there are over thirty sculptures and sixteen houses built by Tressa Prisbrey out of an estimated one million bottles and other discarded items which she collected from a nearby dump.

Grandma Tressa Prisbrey began building the Bottle Village in 1956, when she was sixty years old. Tressa was collecting pencils, as a hobby, for the last few decades and had amassed 17,000 of them. She needed a place to keep them. At first she thought she would build a storehouse, but when she realized that cinder blocks are too expensive, she decided to make one out of bottles instead. Tressa got the idea after seeing a bottle house at the Knott's Berry Farm theme park in Buena Park, California.


Photo credit: Jonathan Haeber/Flickr

Tressa hit the local dump, and along with her sister, started collecting bottles. Before she knew it, she had over one million bottles had hand. And that’s how Bottle Village was born.

First, she built her “Pencil House”, and then a perimeter wall to keep away the smell and dust of the adjacent turkey farm. But one million bottles is not easy to exhaust. So she continued building. She built another house for her doll collection (she had 600 dolls), and then the Leaning Tower of Bottle Village, the Dolls Head Shrine, Cleopatra's Bedroom, the Round House, and more. All the buildings were linked together by colorful mosaic pathways. Grandma Prisbrey also used car headlights, fluorescent tubes, TV sets and whatever else she found interesting.

When visitors came to Bottle Village, Grandma Prisbrey gave a tour of the place. She charged less than a dollar a visit but people frequently gave her more.

Grandma Prisbrey continued to add new structures and tweak old ones for twenty five years. When her health started to fail, she left the village in 1982, at the age of 86, and took residence with her sole-surviving child in San Francisco. She died in 1988.

In 1994, the Bottle Village was badly damaged by the Northridge earthquake which struck some eight miles away. The site is now looked after by a private non-profit organization that is attempting to preserve and restore the property.

Bottle Village is now a recognized California Historical Landmark, and is on the National Register of Historic Places.


Photo credit: jennifer durban/Flickr


Photo credit: jennifer durban/Flickr


Photo credit: Laurie Avocado/Flickr


Photo credit: jennifer durban/Flickr


Photo credit: Dave Spindle/Flickr


Photo credit: heather/Flickr


Photo credit: heather/Flickr


Photo credit: heather/Flickr


Photo credit: heather/Flickr


Photo credit: heather/Flickr


Photo credit: heather/Flickr

Sources: Wikipedia / / WSJ

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