The Suitcase Lady


October 25, 2016, 11:03 pm

I know exactly where I want to be on Halloween night. I want to be in Beverly Hills, California, at 516 Walden Drive, just off Wilshire Boulevard and Santa Monica. Unfortunately, our travel budget is a bit strained and this will not be happening.

My wish is to visit the Witch’s House, a.k.a. the Spadena House, a beloved Beverly Hills landmark. A witch does not live in the house; Michael J. Libow, a real estate agent, is the current owner. Even sans witch, this quirky house rates a view.

The Witch’s cottage was not always situated in the flats of Beverly Hills… opposed to the hills of Beverly Hills where the really rich and supposedly non-witchy people live. This fairy tale structure was designed by Harry Oliver in 1921 and built on the lot of Willat Studio in Culver City. It housed the studio’s offices and dressing rooms and doubled as a movie set. Harry Oliver described his creation as “English Cottage Fantasy Architecture”.

When the studio went out of business, the house faced demolition. A producer, Ward Lascelle, came to its rescue and moved it to Beverly Hills in 1926. He and his wife Lucille turned it into a functioning home. They eventually divorced, and Lucille got the house and a new husband with the last name of Spadena, the official name of the house to this day.

The house changed hands again in 1965 when it was purchased by the Green family who lived there until 1997. Toward the end of their tenure, the house fell into serious disrepair. Most prospective buyers saw it as a tear down.

Michael J. Libow, who grew up in the area, was its savior. He bought it for $1.3 million, the price of the lot, and invested a small fortune and ten years to faithfully restore the exterior and make massive, but witch appropriate improvements to the interior. He also credits the famed Catalonian architect, Antonio Gaudi, as inspiration for the revamped interiors and garden structures.

The Spadena House was made a historic landmark by the City of Beverly Hills in 2013 and will remain the ultimate trick or treating destination for generations to come. Mr. Libow is expecting around 3,000 plus kids this year.

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