If you find yourself in the famously affluent Beverly Hills area of Los Angeles, California, head to Walden Drive and Carmelita Avenue’s intersection. There, you’ll find a house both utterly enchanting and at odds with the slick and modern mansions of the area.
Spadena House (otherwise known as The Witch’s House) stands like real-life recreation of a Bavarian home from a classic children’s book. With its yellow frontage, steep gable roof, windows of leaded glass, and rickety, imprecise shutters, it has been mesmerizing people since 1921.
However, Spadena House wasn’t built where it currently stands. Its story began just a few miles south in another area of Los Angeles, Culver City.
Oscar-nominated art director Harry Oliver originally built this structure for the Willat silent film studio. There, it acted as dressing rooms and an office. However, it was destined for greater things than that.
Because of its unusual appearance, it appeared in several silent films. People were struck by its extraordinary and appealing exterior, even after the studios shut down.
In either 1926 or 1934 (there’s no definitive record of it), it was moved to its current location. The house regained admirers, despite being a private residence since then.
The house came close to being torn down after it was put on the market in 1997. However, real estate agent Michael Libow fell in love with the property and bought it himself the next year. He began carefully restoring it alongside another art director, Nelson Coates.
Thanks to its restoration, gnarled trees, and a wooden bridge spanning a moat, Spadena House’s has a magical, storybook appeal. It sure resembles the gingerbread house from Hansel and Gretal.
Far from concentrating on just the exterior, Libow has carefully restored the interior, so it looks every bit as whimsical and charming as the outside. Libow himself suggests that the interior is something akin to what you’d find in Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride; the famous attraction in California’s Disneyland theme park.
Meanwhile, a wrought iron spider web and spider, along with combined with pointed roof resembling a witch’s hat, make the house a magnet for Halloween trick or treaters. Every Halloween Libow anticipates between three and four thousand appearing at his door.
Far from merely a curiosity to be enjoyed every 31 October, the house is popular with tourists throughout the year. Because the house is residential, visitors are not permitted to go inside. Still, it makes for an amazing photo opportunity, either when making your way there off your own steam or when passing it on one of the many guided tours of the area.
Meanwhile, the house’s history of appearances on the big screen has continued as well. Most notable is the 1995 film Clueless, starring Alicia Silverstone.
Part cool, part kitschy, and entirely charming, Spadena House offers a much-loved, playful and eccentric side to an area of Los Angeles most noted for its wealth and modernity. Any trip to Beverly Hills should include a visit to Spadena House, particularly on Halloween.
Address: 516 N. Walden Drive
Beverly Hills, California, 90210