Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Witch's House

I live very close to a neighborhood that was built by a contractor of singular vision.  High-pitched rooflines, lava rock, decorative block, thatched roofs, bamboo thickets - this is a mid-60's explosion of tiki architecture.  Oddly enough, instead of vowel-filled Polynesian names, the streets of this wicky-wacky, tiki-tacky enclave have names with a distinctly brogue-ish lilt to them - Killybrooke, Killarney, Limerick, et al.  Odder still, is the fact that many of the residents, armed only with leaded-glass front doors, contemporary paver walkways, and Cape Cod color schemes, fight a losing battle against the existing architecture; it creates such a dissonance that it almost circles back around into wacky tacky territory...but not quite.

There is nothing I love more than when people truly embrace the beauty of their given architecture, especially when the architectural style is inherently wacky tacky.  There is no better example than the Witch's House in Beverly Hills, CA.

Spooky in the dappled afternoon sunlight, even if my name was
Hansel or Gretel, I don't think I'd be able to resist the charms of this house!

Built in 1921, in the early days of the Storybook craze, the Witch's House was transplanted to its current location in the mid-1930's.  Famously featured in the movie Clueless, the details of the home cut a distinctively-wacky tacky figure among the manicured lawns of lowland Beverly Hills.  Fortunately, the homeowners of this house have embraced the history of the structure.  Lovingly restoring its many brilliant details, they have maintained a true landmark in a city filled with more caricature than earnest historical character.

The ramshackle shingles and shutters, the paint,
and the cartoony, copper, chimney pots give every
indication that there is an actual witch on the premises.

"No Trespassing, Keep Out"
The signs are so charming that they're difficult to obey.

A mini moat, a foot bridge, and an overgrown cottage garden add so much depth and texture.
You see that tree?  Who says we don't have autumn in Southern California?!!?!

The stone walls/pillars are topped with pumpkins of equal character.

At the Witch's House, it is a Happy Halloween every day of the year!

History is a challenging word to apply to a part of the world that is so relatively young; for California, however, the Witch's House is a big part of our history in terms of industry, architecture, and culture.  Boo-ravo to the witch for keeping it so spooky!

"Trick or Treat" (1952)

Do you have any spooky houses in your neighborhood?  Is your house witchy or maybe even haunted?   Does it come alive during the Halloween season?  Here's hoping you have a Happy Halloween!

The Witch's House
516 Walden Dr
Beverly Hills, CA


Mr. Tiny


  1. Ok, I just spent a lot of time googling how this house was used in clueless. Being that I consider myself a Clueless savant, I was really embarassed that I didn't recognize it. It is simply adorable, btw. I want to live there.

  2. I saw a house for sale in Bath ,England, that was a cemetery-keeper's house right next to a large old graveyard. The graveyard had been shut down, and the house was a lovely little Victorian two-bedroom brick that looked completely haunted, on the left side of the cemetery gate, and a sort of storeroom on the other side.I swear, if I had been Donald Trump I would have bought it on the spot! And, i have to laugh, there are two houses here in my town that very closely resemble this house; not quite so cartoony though; but one features carved fenceposts, dark Tudor-ish brickwork, a cupola and a huge river rock fireplace.If they aren't "wacky tacky" they come pret-tee damn CLOSE. if I was D.T, I'd have both of them in a heartbeat.

  3. "It was one of those house that crazy movie stars built in the crazy 20's"- Bill Holden "Sunset Blvd"
    I love the storybook theme through our it all!