The Spadena House – otherwise known as “The Witch’s House”

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Milica Sterjova
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There is one house in Beverly Hills, California, that is different from any other. Spadena House, otherwise known as “The Witch’s House”, is one of the few houses designed in the style of a storybook dwelling with its rickety wooden fence, steep roof, tiny windows and angled shutters in a surrounding of twisted trees and shrubs. Almost like Hansel and Gretel are going to show up somewhere.

It all began when Oscar-nominated art director Harry Oliver was asked to build a construction for the Irvin Willat film studio in Culver City. This place was supposed to be used as an office and dressing space. Oliver started to study English architecture, and after a while came up with the idea of an “English cottage fantasy” building style.

The Spadena House in Beverly Hills, Sept 1990. Photo Credit

 

The Spadena House in Beverly Hills, Sept 1990. Photo Credit

He designed and built this fairytale house in 1921. Although it looked as if it would collapse, the house was kitted out with all the modern equipment of the day. With its unusual design, Spadena House attracted a lot of visitors and press attention and allegedly caused few car accidents.

The Witch’s House. Photo Credit

In 1926, when the film studio closed down, Willat planned to destroy the house. However, in 1934, he sold the house to film producer Ward Lascelle who moved it to its present location and turned it into a private residence, complete with overgrown gardens and a moat-like pond, and lived in it until he died. After his death, his wife remarried and continued to live in the house with her new husband, Mr. Spadena, hence the present name of the house.

The Witch’s House. Photo Credit

In the 1960s, the Green family purchased the house. When the Greens moved in, they renewed the interior and made some changes to the exterior. At some point the moat began to leak so the Green family filled it with soil and planted a garden around the house. People passing by were often suspicious of the place, so the Greens decided to have a bit of fun and became famous for dressing up on Halloween and treating kids with candy.

After some time, Greens left off the candies and the house became pretty much dilapidated. In 1997, Mrs Green put it up for a sale. Most of the potential buyers wanted to tear the house down, except a  certain Mr. Michael Libow. Libow was a real estate agent who grew up in the area and didn’t want to see Spadena House destroyed. He bought it and started the hard work of a step-by-step renovation, since the last time the house of 3500 square feet had been given any attention was more than 30 years ago.

The Spadena House in the 2000s.

The Spadena House in the 2000s.

Almost 4000 kids visit Spadena House every Halloween. A large number of tourist buses passes by every day in order to see the house. “The Witch’s House” even had an appearance in the 1995 movie “Clueless”. Nowadays, the most famous non-celebrity house continues to play the role of a quirky attraction and enjoys the title of ‘historic landmark’ by the City of Beverly Hills.