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The Witch's House

The Witch’s House

October 1977: The Spadena House — a.k.a. the Witch’s House — at the corner of Walden Drive and Carmelita Avenue in Beverly Hills. Built in 1921 at a Culver City film studio, the structure was moved to its current location in 1934.

In an Aug. 30, 2006, article, staff writer Thomas Curwen reported:

This witch’s lair of fairy-tale proportions, concocted in 1921 from a brew straight out of the Brothers Grimm, may be a cliche by now, yet it still dares to say what is often kept quiet.

With its raked plaster and river rock, aversion to straight lines, a shingle roof with ski-slope severity, mullioned windows and off-kilter shutters, it is the “Rocky Horror” of domestic architecture, “Gods and Monsters” come home to roost. Designed by Harry Oliver in 1921 as movie set, it became an office, and then a home, and it’s what real estate is all about — fantasy.  …

Drawing of the Witch’s House, also known as the Spadena House in Beverly Hills. This ran in the Sep. 26, 1938 Los Angeles Times.

This drawing of the Witch€’s House, also known as the Spadena House, in Beverly Hills ran in the Sept. 26, 1938, Los Angeles Times. Credit: Charles H. Owens/Los Angeles Times/ProQuest.

By 1938, the Witch’s House entered Hollywood lore — or tours, at least. In the Sept. 26, 1938, Los Angeles Times, Joe Seewerker and Charles Owens reported:

You’ve seen those rubberneck busses that haul people over Hollywood  and Beverly Hills. The busses with leather-lunged persons on them who shout: “On your right, ladies and gentlemen, you see the home of Clark Gable–to the left, Garbo, the Swede–”

Well out here at 516 Walden avenue, Beverly Hills, lives a lively amiable lady, Mrs. Lilian Lascalle. Mrs. Lascalle could by no stretch of the imagination be called a violent woman. But it is to be feared that, if Mrs. Lascalle happened to find her slender hands around the windpipe of one the rubberneck bus persons, she would squeeze right heartily.

It is all because the beautiful home Mrs. Lascalle occupies at the Walden-avenue address. It is a home of French-Swiss architecture, a seventeenth century farm type, very intriguing and attractive to the eye.

The leather-lunged boys on the rubberneck busses have seized upon the intriguing appearance of the house to entertain their passengers. “On your right you see the famous witch house of Beverly Hills,” one of them brawled some years ago.

Ever since then he has been imitated by his fellow bus drivers until Mrs. Lascalle’s place actually has been given the reputation as a witch house. Postcards bearing pictures of it and describing it as a witch house have been sold to tourists.

It makes the ordinarily amiable Mrs. Lascalle so mad that she almost cries when she talks of it. “I don’t know what I can do about it,” she says. “But if I find anything I can do, I am going to do it. You wait and see.”

Oct. 14, 2015: The Spadena House, also known as the Witch's House, at Walden Dr. and Carmelita Ave. in Beverly Hills.

Oct. 14, 2015: The Spadena House, also known as the Witch’s House, in Beverly Hills as it looks today. Credit: Scott Harrison / Los Angeles Times

In the late 1990s, real estate agent Michael Libow purchased the home. He has renovated the property.

For more check out this Oct. 30, 2014, Los Angeles magazine article in which Libow explains that Ward Lascelle purchased the structure and moved it to Beverly Hills. His wife, “Lillian divorced Ward, kept the house, and then married the house boy/guest/man servant, whose last name was Spadena.” Thus the home become known as the Spadena House.

scott.harrison@latimes.com

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1 Comment

  1. March 3, 2016, 3:49 am

    I thought about that old saying, how we can never go home again. But I think it's more like a piece of us stays behind when we leave — a piece we can never reclaim, one that awaits our next visit and demands that we remember.

    By: quad

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