Pacific Grove Butterfly House – Pacific Grove, California - Atlas Obscura
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Pacific Grove, California

Pacific Grove Butterfly House

Hopeless romantics will swoon over the sweet story behind this bright and colorful home. 

It’s impossible to decide which is more magical, the hundreds of vibrant handcrafted butterflies prominently on display all over this property, or the inspiring history behind this amazing labor of love.

The Pacific Grove Butterfly House has undergone two major transformations, both times by the skillfully artistic Army vet and proprietor, “J,” and both in honor of his muse and true love, Sonja.

Sonja had always dreamed of living in Pacific Grove, so in 1977 these newlyweds purchased a tiny cottage just a few blocks from the heart of downtown and began their new life together. In need of repair, the house was ready for its first overhaul. One fateful day, the kitchen floor collapsed under J’s feet while he was doing the dishes. The structure was in such bad shape, it only took one afternoon for J to strip the house down to its frame. Undeterred, J rebuilt Sonja’s dream cottage.

Not too many years later, J would set out to transform their home yet again. In the early 1990s, Sonja slowly started losing her eyesight, the result of a degenerative eye disease. One day J made a painted wooden butterfly as a gift for Sonja, and they both quickly realized Sonja was able to make out the bright colors, if little else. Now their home is covered in hundreds of brightly colored wooden butterflies. The dazzling rainbow house delights visitors day and night, as colorful lights keep the butterflies shining bright after dark.

Know Before You Go

If you are lucky, you can catch J working tirelessly in his workshop, constructing the latest additions to the butterflies on display. Be sure to say hello and hear him gleefully tell his story. This unique home is a must-see if you are visiting the Monterey Peninsula. For a truly beautiful sight, check it out at night. 

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