Deetjen's Big Sur Inn

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Deetjen's Big Sur Inn
Deetjen's Big Sur Inn (Big Sur, CA).jpg
Deetjen's Big Sur Inn is located in California
Deetjen's Big Sur Inn
Nearest city Big Sur, California
Coordinates 36°13′3.29″N 121°45′0.59″W / 36.2175806°N 121.7501639°W / 36.2175806; -121.7501639Coordinates: 36°13′3.29″N 121°45′0.59″W / 36.2175806°N 121.7501639°W / 36.2175806; -121.7501639
Architect Helmuth Deetjen
Architectural style American Craftsman, and Other.
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 90001464[1]
Added to NRHP September 13, 1990

Deetjen's Big Sur Inn is one of the oldest hotels in Big Sur,[2] a scenic area on the Monterey coast of California.


In the late 1920s Helmuth Deetjen fled Norway and eventually settled in Big Sur. He soon married Helen Haight, a member of the important California Haight family. Henry Huntly Haight was the 10th Governor of California, and many places in San Francisco were named for this family. The couple moved to Big Sur in the early 1930s; at first they lived in tents, but eventually they built a small house and a big barn.

The couple was quite hospitable and enjoyed sheltering and feeding travelers in the days before Highway 1 made travel easier along the Central Coast of California. Eventually, they settled on Helen's forty acre property in Castro Canyon, where they proceeded to build small cottages in the Norwegian style and a restaurant known for its excellent food. Over time, the Deetjen's came to be known in the area as "Grandpa" and "Grandma".[3]

The hotel has been very popular ever since for its rustic charm and beautiful scenery. The building has many historic features, including glass Helmuth made himself in King City and brought over the mountains to Big Sur by mule.[4] Helmuth died in 1972 and all of his holdings in the canyon were placed in a trust to ensure that they were not sold off piecemeal.

Present day[edit]

Today the property is owned by the Deetjen's Big Sur Inn Preservation Foundation, and operated on a non-profit basis.[5]

In 1990 Big Sur Inn was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[6] A photographic essay book on its history, called Big Sur Inn: The Deetjen Legacy (Gibbs Smith, ISBN 1423600126) was released in 2006.


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23. 
  2. ^ Dicum, Gregory (2007-01-07). "Big Sur Without the Crowds". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-08-05. 
  3. ^ Fish, Peter (January 1994). "Deetjen's Big Sur Inn. - Big Sur, California". Sunset. Retrieved 2007-08-02. 
  4. ^ "The Story and the Legend". Deetjens Big Sur Inn. Retrieved 2007-08-05. 
  5. ^ The Big Sur Voice, 3 December 2005 (pdf)
  6. ^ "CALIFORNIA - Monterey County - Historic Districts". National Register of Historical Places. Retrieved 2007-08-05. 
  • Molyneaux, David G. (1994-06-26). "Snuggling Up to Nature at Big Sur". Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio). 

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