Are you a budding rock star or country frontman looking to channel Johnny Cash for your next album and you need a place to get away from the outside world while writing your masterpiece? There’s a house in Casitas Springs, California that Cash built in 1961 for him and his wife Vivian, who inspired “I Walk The Line,” to live in seclusion.
Things didn’t exactly go as planned. By 1966, Johnny had an affair with June Carter and Vivian filed for divorce. According to the Los Angeles Times, Cash moved to the 4,500 sq. ft. home to get aware from the glare of Hollywood, but the house didn’t solve the couple’s issues.
“Hating confrontation, Cash stopped coming home for months at a time and struck up affairs with other women, notably June Carter, who joined his touring group in 1962. As he fell deeper into drugs, his behavior became so self-destructive that those around him feared for his life,” the Times reported in 2013.
“One of the most vivid childhood memories of Cash’s two oldest daughters, Rosanne and Kathy, was watching their mother, Vivian, puffing anxiously on a cigarette as she stared through the living room window of their Casitas Springs home on those rare nights when she thought her husband might actually be coming home.”
That house, which boasts five bedrooms and four-and-a-half bathrooms is the one now for sale at $1.79 million.
From the realtor:
You can feel the spirit of ”The Man in Black” as you traverse the private driveway towards the iconic house. Johnny Cash built the 4,500 square foot home in 1961 as an escape from the raucous fame of his rock ‘n roll lifestyle.
He and his wife Vivian envisioned the rural estate – tucked in the hills between Ventura and Ojai – as a serene getaway for the couple and their three daughters for many years to come. If you know the rest of the story, you’ll know that the homestead was not enough to save them from the forces that were starting to torment Johnny and threaten their marriage.
But while they held onto that possibility, they poured their heart and soul into the house, making it irrevocably theirs, imbued with a combination of downhome country style and star-studded glitz. The story is told that Johnny bought the land and built the house to his exact specifications; walking the rooms and deciding on exact placement and layout. He created a secluded sanctuary, unique to this rural small-town enclave.
Longtime locals recount stories of Johnny setting up speakers on the hillside outside the house, and playing concerts for the townspeople down below. The dramatic double-gabled house is set on nearly six private acres, nestled against a stunning natural backdrop. Inside, most rooms remain original to Johnny and Vivian’s legacy, with painted ceilings imbued with glitter, an original wall-mounted turntable and intercom system, and curved brick fireplace in the family room. Custom wood built-ins throughout the kitchen and living room are period-specific and filled with charm.
The wood-paneled studio where Johnny sequestered himself to write many of his hit songs is timelessly preserved, with high windows allowing the six-foot Johnny to peer out onto the grounds but providing him with complete privacy within. Johnny’s habit of staying up all night writing music, then sleeping all day necessitated two distinct his-and-her master bedroom suites since their sleep habits were so different. The suites showcase their personalities: stark original period wallpaper and dark tiled shower in “his” bathroom contrast sharply with the pastel feminine sensibility in “hers”. Even Johnny’s famous black commode remains intact.
The property overlooks the quaint village of Casitas Springs, with an abundance of wildlife and the majestic beauty of the Ojai Valley beyond. Soaring foothills frame the skyline in all directions and deliver a night blue sky because of its remoteness. The grounds themselves feature majestic live oaks, verdant gardens, a sparkling swimming pool, and corrals and fields ready for horses, pigs, goats, chickens, or other rural uses.
A picturesque hillside barbecue area remains where Johnny taught his daughters to shoot; spent shells occasionally turn up as modern remnants of their long-ago target practice. Other secluded areas of the property provide cloistered settings to entertain and enjoy the pristine natural surroundings. With five bedrooms and four-and-a-half baths plus an office, the rambling ranch-style house is ready for a new owner to either embrace the man in black’s legacy and return this home to its original splendor, or to update it throughout with a nod to the past.
Johnny and Vivian spent six years in this home making memories, welcoming another baby daughter, and trying to salvage their romance. The spirit of their perseverance lingers, and looms as large as Johnny’s superstar presence is felt throughout modern musical history.
Let’s put it this way, it’s a nice house to have in your catalog if you tend to buy famous houses in American pop culture history. It’s not Graceland — glad I’ve seen that place, what a step back in a time machine that was — but this place sure has history. Go read that L.A. Times story on Cash’s time in California and you just might end up buying some real estate to add to your Cash collection.
By the way, you’ll be 80 miles northwest of Los Angeles right on the edge of woke and the California outlaws.
Mortgage: $10,000 or so a month. Make your masterpiece album and then sell it for a profit.