We tend to look up toward the skyline when we think about a city’s most beautiful buildings, but many of L.A.’s most stunning structures—and certainly its most whimsical ones—are hidden in plain sight on residential streets.
To celebrate that, each month local architecture preservation group Friends of Residential Treasures: Los Angeles taps what it refers to as a “trailblazer” to curate a map of private homes in L.A. that are all united by a common theme. Just in time for spooky season, October’s itinerary is summoning “witch houses” thanks to Amber Benson, the Witches of Echo Park novelist and a mid-series regular on Buffy the Vampire Slayer (she played Tara).
No, there aren’t spells and enchantments spilling out the windows of these homes, but these mostly 1920s structures do showcase a certain “spookiness to the city,” as Benson writes, “a magical and mysterious dark side hidden beneath the sun-bleached facade.”
To be clear, FORT:LA’s maps won’t grant you access inside of each home; you’ll have to do all of your gawking from the sidewalk. But Benson’s itinerary will get you up to speed on a series of storybook-style homes all over the city, with a bunch of picks that are way less obvious than Beverly Hills’ Spadena House (that popular trick-or-treating destination didn’t land on the list).
Highlights include hobbit homes in Culver City that seem straight out of the Shire, a Los Feliz house that looks a whole lot like the nearby Tam O’Shanter, a small castle in Eagle Rock where Ben Affleck and Matt Damon penned Good Will Hunting, a Beachwood Canyon cottage that once boasted Humphrey Bogart as a resident, and a row of pint-sized Burbank homes that wouldn’t be out of place in Snow White.
Sign up for free on FORT:LA’s site and you’ll gain access to a nearly 70-page PDF that kicks off with a single-sheet primer on each destination (with the essential details like location, architect, original client and a bit of background), as well as deep dives that compile research on aspects like building costs, materials and oral histories. Since you can’t actually enter each home, you’ll also find interior detail photos alongside historical photos and old newspaper clippings.
Before you set out, FORT:LA has a few ground rules you should keep in mind: don’t leave any trash, don’t approach or bother any homeowners, don’t expect unobstructed views and be mindful of any other risks you may encounter along the way.
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