Grandma Prisbrey's Bottle Village

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Grandma Prisbrey's Bottle Village in Simi Valley, CA consists of 33 structures mostly made of bottles and cement – all on one-third of an acre. Tressa Prisbrey (1896-1988) was known to everyone as "Grandma". She started building in 1955 at the age of 62 and used over one million bottles throughout the Village. Her first bottle house was for her collection of 10,000 pencils. Then she built another for her doll collection. Prisbrey lost six of her seven children which may explain some of her industriousness and use of dolls and other toys. She then added a multi-denominational shrine and many other structures. In addition to the Pencil House and Doll House, there are Cleopatra’s Bedroom, the Shell House and many others. Inside each structure are collections of old dolls, toy animals, photographs, etc. Prisbrey added a bottle wall around the Village, a cactus gardens and mosaic walkways of cement and found objects. She used car headlights, flourescent tubes, TV sets and whatever else she found interesting. Most of her building materials and collections came from her daily trips to the town dump.

She enjoyed visitors and dyed her white cats different colors with food coloring (green, pink, etc.) to amuse the kids and other gullible folks. The Village was pretty much completed by 1961 but Grandma kept adding structures and tweaking into the 1980s. She moved away in 1972, but later came back to live in a trailer alongside the village where she continued adding sculptures and flower planters.

The Village was nearly torn down in the early 1980s. Then in 1994, the Northridge earthquake did serious damage to all but one of the structures and knocked several to the ground. The PBVC (Preserve Bottle Village Committee) is working to repair the Village but it is slow going as it is really only staffed by two people. Despite international attention, the City of Simi Valley has not been particularly supportive. Tours are available by appointment.

For more, see this websites: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.

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