Inside Johnny Cash’s Ojai Valley Sanctuary That the Man In Black Helped Design Himself

Johnny Cash was Arkansas-born and raised, and he became famous during the rise of rockabilly in Memphis, Tennessee. But just because he had country roots, that didn’t keep him from heading west and building a life in California. 

The legend known as “the Man in Black” helped design the home he built in the Golden State’s Ojai Valley for his family in the early 1960s. And, it just went on sale for $1.795 million.

Johnny Cash sits on a bed playing acoustic guitar as his first wife Vivian Liberto looks on in circa 1957
Johnny Cash and Vivian Liberto in 1957 | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Johnny Cash built the California home for his first wife

In 1961, Johnny moved his first wife, Vivian Liberto, and their three daughters — Rosanne, Kathy, and Cindy — to rural Ventura County. The singer had helped design a custom ranch-style home situated in the hills overlooking the town of Casitas Springs. And that’s where he wanted to raise his family while he continued his music career. 

“Johnny bought the land and built the house to his exact specifications; walking the rooms and deciding on exact placement and layout,” listing agents Adam McKaig and Melissa Borders from Douglas Elliman Real Estate explained.

Johnny Cash Ojai Valley home from the outside
Photo Courtesy: Top Ten Real Estate Deals

“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.”  

Inside the sanctuary that the Man in Black helped design

The double-gabled house that Cash helped design features 4,500 square feet. It sits on nearly six acres among the singer’s “beloved hills, fields, trees and flowers, at the end of a long, private driveway.”

“John’s ideas are still very much a part of the home, including the country-motif family room and curved brick fireplace, custom wood built-ins, and an original wall-mounted turntable,” the listing reads.

Interior shot of Johnny Cash's ojai valley home
Photo Courtesy: Top Ten Real Estate Deals

The home also features a preserved wood-paneled studio where Cash wrote many of his songs. It also has two his-and-her master bedroom suites because of the singer’s “night-owl routine of writing music late into the night and early morning.”

Cash’s former property includes five bedrooms, a pool, an office, a barbecue area, and “sweeping views of the Ojai Valley, oak trees and evergreens, and year-round flowers.”

Johnny Cash and Vivian Liberto divorced in 1966

Unfortunately, things didn’t turn out as planned for Cash and Liberto. After welcoming a fourth daughter named Tara, Liberto filed for divorce in 1966 — just five years after the singer built the family’s Ojai Valley sanctuary. She cited Cash’s severe drug and alcohol abuse, his touring schedule, his infidelity, and his close relationship with June Carter as her reasons for ending the marriage.

Liberto continued to raise her and Cash’s daughters, and moved from the home that the singer built in Casitas Springs after remarrying Ventura police officer Dick Distin. 

interior bedroom with views at Johnny Cash's ojai valley home
Photo Courtesy: Top Ten Real Estate Deals

Meanwhile, Cash continued to struggle with his addictions. He married June Carter in 1968, who did everything she could to keep her husband away from drugs and alcohol. They welcomed one son in 1970, and toured and made music together until Carter died in May of 2003. Cash passed away just four months later.

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