Anyone can do
anything with a million dollars. Look at Disney. But it takes more than
money to make something out of nothing, and look at the fun I have doing
- Tressa "Grandma"
"Grandma” Prisbrey began building the Bottle Village in 1956, when she
was sixty years old. She and her husband had moved their trailer
onto a 1/3 acre lot in Simi Valley,
California, and Grandma
needed a place to keep her pencil collection. She had about
4,000 pencils then. Since there was no money left for
construction materials, Grandma Prisbrey drove her Studebaker pickup
truck to the town dump and came back with a truck full of bottles. She used the bottles as bricks and built a room to keep her pencils.
Then, she just kept on building – some 23 buildings and structures
made of glass and other odd materials, a mosaic sidewalk throughout
her village, and her pencil collection increased to 17,000.
Other buildings soon
included the Leaning Tower of Bottle Village, the Dolls Head Shrine,
Cleopatra's Bedroom, the Round House, and many more.
Building the Bottle
Village was a hobby that Grandma Prisbrey thoroughly enjoyed and she
loved to show off her work to anyone who would pay 25 cents for a
walking tour, consisting of her guiding her guests, room through room
and building by building along the mosaic walk. The walkway was
bordered by picture tubes so that her guests wouldn’t wander off
during her speech of anecdotal stories and information. Often,
the tour would end in the Meditation Room where she would play the
piano and sing risqué songs from the 1920s.
Grandma Prisbrey’s Bottle Village had received all kinds of attention
and had been recognized by the artistic
community as well as the state. In February, 1981, it was
California State Historical
Just a year
later in May of 1982, Tressa’s health had decline and she left her
Bottle Village for the last time. On October 5, 1988, at the age
of 92, Tressa "Grandma" Prisbrey died in a nursing home outside of San
California. A reporter who
talked to her just the day before she died reported that Grandma had
this to say: "I'm going home to my Bottle Village."
In 1994, the Bottle Village was badly
damaged by the Northridge earthquake which struck some eight miles
away. Though many efforts have been made to repair the damage
and keep up the disintegrating village in repair, the Preserve Bottle
Village Committee, a non-profit organization, can always use some
extra help and/or donations to preserve the creation of this
remarkably inventive woman.
The Bottle Village
is located in Simi Valley,
California and tours are available by
appointment only. Today it is recognized as a California Historical
Landmark, Ventura County Cultural Landmark, City of Simi Valley
Cultural Landmark, in addition to being on the National Register of
Preserve Bottle Village Committee
PO Box 1412
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