Touring Witch Houses with FORT: LA
Last year, when everything was closed FORT: LA was a godsend. The Friends of Residential Architecture: Los Angeles regularly provides free monthly self-guided architecture tours and they were the perfect pandemic activity. In fact, just about this time last year I headed on their Witch Houses trail and saw some deliciously spooky dwellings. Since we’re once again nearing Halloween FORT: LA recently released Witches 2: Fairytales, Castles and Cottages and I made sure to check it out.
This year’s tour is again curated by Amber Benson, author of the Witches of Echo Park trilogy, and features five whimsical properties that would be right at home in Grimms’ Fairy Tales. Take the 1929 Sherwood House (above), a Tudor cottage that would be the perfect dwelling for the seven dwarfs. I can just see them trudging down the front steps on their way to work in the mines.
Last year’s tour featured homes from Burbank to Culver City but this years is much more condensed with all the residences located in the general Hollywood area. Of course, when houses are located in and around Hollywood they’re certain to have connections to the entertainment industry and the majority of homes on the tour were once owned by Golden Age stars. The Normandie Towers were built in 1924 for Charlie Chaplin and, located near his studios, the apartment complex was used to house those on his payroll.
Another home with a Hollywood pedigree is The Ivory Tower built in 1924. Originally built as a wedding gift for the daughter of Alexander Pantages it was later occupied by Clark Gable and Carole Lombard. Carole Lombard was a true individual with a heart of gold and a devil may care attitude so it’s no surprise to me that she lived in such a fun property.
In fact, I would describe all the properties as fun. How can they not be when they defied the architectural standards of the day (and the present day, for that matter)? In a town where unique properties are destroyed on the regular it’s amazing that so many examples survive to the present day.
I, for one, am glad that Ms. Benson and FORT: LA have chosen to highlight them on not one but two fabulous tours. In fact, if you want to make yourself a supersized tour I suggest downloading both routes and seeing ALL the spooky properties at once. Locations like this deserve to be celebrated and I’m so glad they are finally getting their due. Head here to take your own journey into a world of wonder.
While I enjoy reading each of your entries, the one focusing on Witch or Storybook houses was of particular interest. Until a few years ago, conducted informal tours of Storybook architecture (residential as well as commercial) throughout the LA area.
Was not aware of FORT:LA. Promptly signed up so as to gain access to the very informative “Witches” trail resources.
Thanks for chronicling SoCal culture and architecture.
Thank you for the kind compliments. I’m so happy to have introduced you to FORT:LA!