Prisbrey's doll head sculpture.

Grandma Prisbrey's Bottle Village

Field review by the editors.

Simi Valley, California

This bottle and junk assemblage has been undergoing restoration for decades, since self-taught artist Tressa "Grandma" Prisbrey died in 1988 at age 92. It sits on a one-third acre lot in a residential neighborhood. Grandma Prisbrey's Bottle Village is an oft mentioned and cherished folk art environment, on the National Register of Historic Places.

Prisbrey started her fantasy village in 1955 and built until 1981, creating 33 structures and using junk furniture, toys, and an estimated 90,000 discarded bottles. She crafted structures along the "Mosaic Walk" -- the Round House, the Rumpus Room, Shrine to All Faiths, Cleopatra's Bedroom, and the Pencil House (to store her collection of 17,000 pencils).

The 1994 Northridge earthquake shook down much of the village. FEMA provided funds for restoration, then withdrew them in 1997 under political pressure (and technically, the Bottle Village had already been closed to the public before the earthquake).

The Preserve Bottle Village non-profit organization continues to raise funds for restoration. Area property values have skyrocketed over the years; it's likely there will never be another junk art bottle village built in this valley. In May 2005, PBV board member Francie Rehwald saved Grandma Prisbrey's Bottle Village from "imminent property default" by donating money to cover over $8,000 in back taxes and interest.

The site is open by appointment, otherwise, you can look through the surrounding fence. Donations can be mailed to PBVC, PO Box 1412, Simi Valley, CA 93062.

Grandma Prisbrey's Bottle Village

Address:
4595 Cochran St., Simi Valley, CA
Directions:
Hwy 118/Ronald Reagan Freeway, exit south on Tapo Canyon Rd., turn left/east on Cochran, past Tapo St.
Hours:
By appt. Public tours four times a year. (Call to verify)
Phone:
805-583-1627
Admission:
Donation goes to restoration.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
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