Wednesday, June 14, 2006

the witch's house of beverly hills.

spadena house 3

no, not where joan and melissa rivers live. the spadena house--known as "the witch's house"-- sits not on a movie lot, but smack in the heart of beverly hills, at the corner of walden and carmelita.

i had heard various rumours and stories about the origins of this house, everything from it being built for a movie version of "hansel and gretel" to it being the creation of a devout snow white and the seven dwarves fan. it turn out that it was built by harry oliver, an art director and set designer for a silent movie studio in the 1920s; they were used as offices and dressing rooms for the lot, then later moved from its original site in culver city to its current lot in beverly hills.

spadena house 1

the house is one of the premier examples of what is known as the storybook style of architecture, which not surprisingly, took its inspiration from hollywood sets of the twenties and thirties. defining characteristics seem to be bent and burned cedar shake roofs, small windows, rough hewn beams, dark rooms, and quirkiness coming out of every stuccoed pore. i think you really need to be some sort of fairy tale fetishist to live in one of these houses.

spadena house 4

for years the house was occupied, and sat on the corner lot amidst a rambling english cottage-style garden with a crazy wishing well in the front, but now it sits behind a tarped chain link fence, undergoing reconstruction. the new owner seems to be adding some odd gaudí-esque touches to it, along with a tiny bit of art nouveau-ish flare, which only seems to add to its creepiness oddness "charm." although it's not really my cup of tea, i'm rather glad that someone has taken enough interest in the spadena house to restore it rather than tear it down, and so keeping another bit of happy madness alive in the city.

a few more photos on flickr.


Tokyoastrogirl said...

Funny comment on the "witches." I actually WORK with them, can you believe it? And yeah- they are.

'Nuff said.

Acme Instant Food said...

Sorry Tokyoastrogirl! A buddy of mine did some of those red carpet shows on E with them. *shudder*

That house is a great spot to take visitors. It's location is actually what makes it so unusual.

Mila Tan said...

I remember hearing the urban myth about the house that the owner/builder wanted to make something so out of sync with the rest of the houses in the neighborhood. Built out of spite.
Always enjoyed going by that house when I was in LA. Glad to hear it's still there, sad to hear it's being retouched. Gaudi? Er....

Kate said...

So charming. We have one just like it in Sacramento, California, but I don't know the origin.