“Storybook houses are an outgrowth of the blurred line of fantasy and reality that is particular to Los Angeles,” says Trudi Sandmeier, a preservationist at the Los Angeles Conservancy. The style pops up across the country, she notes, but nowhere did it attain the popularity it enjoyed in L.A.
Pictured here is the Hobbit House in Culver City. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)
But the trend was short-lived. Construction of storybook-style houses all but stopped by the late 1930s.
The Spadena House, Beverly Hills. (Los Angeles Times)
Storybook structures include places that appear to be hobbit houses, witch’s dens, fairy-tale castles and village courts. Though many fine examples have been destroyed and just three are designated landmarks in Los Angeles others are still sprinkled around town.
The Spadena House, also known as Witches House, was bought by its real estate broker to save it from being torn down by a new owner. (Los Angeles Times)
At a time when midcentury modern is the pinnacle of hip living, when Neutra and Schindler are considered gods by architecture buffs, and when light and space are in high demand, the storybook style has never seemed more out of fashion.
The outside gate at Witches House in Beverly Hills. (Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times)
A house with tiny windows, dark and cozy little rooms and an inherent sense of humor may seem like the opposite of cool, but the storybook style continues to charm fans and inspire new generations. This whimsical Ojai house, owned by architect Mark Whitman and wife Julia, is built around a tree. (Los Angeles Times)
The storybook-style home of Don Brown and Christopher Parson in Los Feliz features a living room with stained-glass windows. (Los Angeles Times)