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Sneak a Peek Inside the “Witch’s House” of Beverly Hills

Michael J. Libow shares pictures inside his home fit for Hansel and Gretel. 

I grew up trick or treating on Halloween in the late ’70s and early ’80s at the Witch’s House. The owners at that time would dress up as ghosts and goblins and hand out taffy from a witch’s kettle. There was dry ice coming from the moat around the house and Disney’s Haunted Mansion soundtrack could be heard out the upstairs window. It was an event.

Then suddenly, the house went dark in the ‘90s, no explanation given. Over time, the property started to show neglect. Thankfully, real estate agent Michael J. Libow purchased the cottage in 1998 and has taken wonderful care of it since. What began as a gradual renovation project 15 years ago turned into something else: Landmark #8 for the City of Beverly Hills.

In addition to restoring the property, Michael has made some incredible additions to the house. The landscaping in the front yard is purposefully bizarre, with gnarled, twisted trees and a wooden bridge crossing a mystical moat with a ceramic glass bottom. The home now looks more organic, like it’s growing up out of the ground. There is a huge wrought iron spider web complete with a nefarious looking spider and the house is surrounded by a rickety-looking picket fence.

I had the pleasure of visiting my childhood haunt earlier this year, and it immediately reminded me of “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride” at Disneyland. I half expected Walt’s ghost to appear at any moment. Its dilapidated-looking pitched roof is pointed like a witch’s hat, and the walls of the house slope precariously, giving the impression it could collapse at any moment. Saggy, wooden window shutters are hung at odd angles.

Michael was kind enough to allow me and photographer Stephen Russo, my Vintage Los Angeles colleague, to tour the home while he prepared to welcome more than 4,000 trick-or-treaters this Halloween. Between a few rounds of pinball on Michael’s vintage Captain Fantastic pinball machine, he spoke with me about his oddball home and what it’s like on All Hallows Eve.

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