Hansel and Gretel Storybook Architecture: The Witch’s House of Beverly Hills

All photos by Brian Donnelly

I like to show people this house. It is known as the Spadena House, but more commonly referred to as the Witch’s House, and as of late, Beverly Hills Landmark #8. It was originally built in Culver City in 1921. The house was designed by Harry Oliver, who worked for Irving C. Willat Productions, and who also designed the Tam o’ Shanter restaurant in Los Feliz. The storybook-style Witch’s House was used as a background set for fairy tale stories, but it was primarily used for offices. These days most people recognize it from the movie “Clueless.”

In 1934 the house was moved to Beverly Hills, where it is now. It was broken down into three pieces and reassembled on its current lot at the southeast corner of Walden Drive and Carmelita Avenue. Real estate agent Michael Libow bought it in 1998, saved it, renovated it, and still lives in it. The storybook style was once very popular in Los Angeles. At one time there were about 300 of these whimsical homes around Los Angeles. Currently there are only about 25. This is the most famous one of them all; there are lines around the block on Halloween. So we owe a great debt of gratitude to Mr. Libow for maintaining this charming and dilapidated-looking piece of LA history. He has even created special landscaping around the house to continue its theme.

This door is amazing because it has a cobweb on it. Coincidence or design? Because Harry Oliver is the man who created the machine that makes fake cobwebs.

Previously on The LA Beat: Offbeat LA: StorybookArchitecture in Los Angeles

This entry was posted in Attractions, Photo Essays. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply