Storybook Style: America’s Whimsical Homes of the Twenties
by Arrol Gellner (author), Douglas Keister (photographer)
2001, 192 pages, 8.9 x 0.8 x 11.2 inches
$65 Buy a copy on Amazon
1920s Los Angeles was the heart of Storybook Style architecture. Inspired by Hollywood fantasies of European fairy tales, these whimsical houses and apartments look like Disneyfied medieval castles, French peasant huts, and Hansel and Gretel cottages straight out of the pages of the Brothers Grimm. Many of the houses were built by skilled set designers who worked at the movie studios and feature cartoonishly rounded doors, lopsided roofs, and exaggerated antiquity.
The prime example of the Storybook Style (a style that lasted only a decade before disappearing) is the Spadena House, built in 1921 in Culver City as an office and dressing room for a movie studio. Known informally as the “Witch House,” it appears charmingly dilapidated and (as far as I can tell) has not a single 90-degree angle in its construction. The house was moved to the corner of Walden and Carmelita in Beverly Hills in 1934 and converted to a residence, where it stands today. Whenever we have guests come visit us, my wife and I take them to see the house. I never get tired of looking at it. (I would live there in a second but Zillow says it’s worth $4.7 million.)
I wish every building in the United States was Storybook.
– Mark Frauenfelder
April 1, 2015