Chairs in the canyon

Helen and Helmuth Haight DeetjenDeetjen's History

IN the early 1930’s Helmuth and Helen Haight Deetjen lived in a tent beside the Castro Canyon Creek. Helmuth constructed a redwood barn with reclaimed materials from Monterey's Cannery Row. Word spread, and adventurous travelers came for weeks to hike and write, dine and play. In 1939, Barbara Blake transformed this main building into a restaurant similar to those of her native English countryside. Today, this space is the heart of Deetjens; filled with guests enjoying meals by candlelight, sipping wine and warming themselves by the fire.

Over years, Helmuth added to the Inn, using locally milled redwood, and giving each room a unique personality and name to match. In this process, ("Grandpa") Deetjen (as he came to be known) recreated the architecture of his native Norway and also helped develop what is now known as the Big Sur style of building. For decades, guests have added to the Inn's journals, always a good read in the cozy rooms.

Original buildingGrandpa went on to spend his golden years listening to classical music, drinking red wine, and enjoying the intellectual fruits of solitude, while Helen Deetjen (“Mrs. D.”) held court in her rooms. A penchant for See's chocolates contributed to her famous girth. Locals came to her for juicy gossip, true as well as concocted.

Dining roomThe fresh air, redwood forests, ocean views and tranquility of Big Sur has inspired artists for generations. Famous writers as diverse as Robinson Jeffers and Richard Brautigan wrote of Big Sur, as did Henry Miller, Lillian Bos Ross, Eric Barker, Hunter S. Thompson, and Jack Kerouac. Edward Weston and Ansel Adams created photographic works in Big Sur, as have hundreds of other photographers. George Choley, Gordon Newell, Edmund Kara, Emile Norman, Barbara Spring and Bob Nash are just a few of the noted local artists of an earlier generation who lived and loved here.

Deetjens Inn exists today because in 1972 Helmuth “Grandpa” Deetjens bequeathed his Big Sur home to be forever enjoyed by guests wanting to enjoy the peace, friendship, and beauty of this place. In 1990, the US Department of the Interior placed Deetjens Big Sur Inn on the National Register of Historic Places. The rustic, hand-crafted quality of the Inn and its old-world ambience recalls visitors' experience in Big Sur's early days.

"Only places of such wondrous character can fool you into thinking you are at home."- Sunset Magazine

Anita Alan's Big Sur Inn: The Deetjen Legacy, records much of the Inn's history, poetry, photographs & recipes.

Jessica Lustig wrote whimsically about Deetjens' Books of Revelation in the New York Times Travel Magazine, 2010.

Deetjens Big Sur Inn is on the National Register of Historic Places