Storybook cottage in Beverly Hills was once the site of 1920s silent film studio, affectionately known as "The Witch's House."
There’s a house in Beverly Hills, California, that might be the perfect place to go when trick-or-treating. Known formally as “The Spadena House,” the house is better known as, simply “The Witch’s House.” This storybook cottage was built in 1921 by Harry Oliver and the yellow house earns its name for its sloping, odd-shaped roof reminiscent of a sagging witch’s hat. The pitched roof is covered in unusually-shaped dark shingles, giving off the illusion of a dilapidated gingerbread house.
The property features a picket fence, which consists of warped, wooden slabs, and window shutters jutting out at odd angles. The landscape is purposefully bizarre, complete with twisted trees and gnarled shrubs. There is even a wooden bridge crossing a moat, and a sign hanging from a lantern that reads: “Witch’s Landing.”
Oliver, an Oscar-nominated art director, originally built the structure in Culver City as part of the Willat silent film studio. Despite its funny exterior, it was the site of studio offices and dressing rooms, and was featured in several silent films until the industry gave way to the “talkies.” The cottage was abandoned after Willat Studios closed, though it still caused many traffic jams from curious by-passers. In either 1926 or 1934 (accounts vary) the Witch’s House was relocated to Beverly Hills. There it has remained a private residence, although it almost returned to Culver City to serve as a historic museum.
In 1997, the house went back up on the market represented by Michael Libow, a real estate agent who grew up in Beverly Hills and had “always loved the structure.” During this time, Libow learned that all the other bidders had plans to purchase the property and tear down the building. To prevent this, Libow ended up purchasing the $1.3M home for himself and has since worked with Hollywood art director Nelson Coates to restore the property. Renovations have included incorporating more Gaudi-esque elements to further the “cottage” feel of the building.
Since its move to the affluent suburb, the house has been the subject of many urban legends. Some say the house was built by a Snow White and the Seven Dwarves fanatic, others have claimed that the house was built for a movie version of Hansel and Gretel. Though neither is true, the most plausible legend is that a former resident would dress up as a witch and hand out candy on Halloween. For Halloween in 2014, Libow prepared for 4,000 trick-or-treaters.
Know Before You Go
Located at the northeast corner of Carmelita Avenue and Walden Drive
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