Nationality: Persian American
Residence: Los Angeles
Date of Performance/Collection: March 21, 2019
Primary Language: English
Context: A friend and I were taking a walk through the residential area Beverly Hills. We passed by a landmark often referred to as “The Witch’s House”. We then began discussing the history of this house to the surrounding community, one that my friend was born and raised in. In the piece, my informant is identified as D.P., and I am identified as D.S.
Background: The Witch’s House sits in the middle of the Beverly Hills flats on Walden Drive. It looks as if it were straight out of a storybook. It was originally built in 1920 and was intended for a studio film, never for a resident. It’s stood on the corner of the street, untouched since then. However, the house has a different history for the surrounding community.
DP: “This is honestly a defining characteristic of Beverly Hills for me. I love it. The first house I lived in was 2 houses down from it”
DS: “Were you not scared to go around it? It looks so spooky, I’d be so scared as a little kid”
DP: “It was definitely very spooky, but it’s just the greatest. Every Halloween night all the kids from the neighborhood would just know to meet on Walden by the Witch’s House at like 8. Everyone would bring shaving cream and all the kids would have a huge shaving cream fight on the street. All the parents would come out and hose off the kids afterwards because we were all covered.”
DS: “Does someone live in there?”
DP: “I’m pretty sure someone bought it at some point and remodeled the inside but made it a point to never touch the outside. I’m not sure if he actually lives out of the house but either way it’s the staple of this street for sure. It’s been in the background of so many movies too. I know it was in a scene of the movie Clueless”
DS: “Are there any scary stories or legends about it?”
DP: “As kids we all used to think that witches actually lived in there or that it was haunted, we were honestly scared to go around it, especially at night.”
Analysis: This point in Beverly Hills is one that brought a community together and remains the defining characteristic of the neighborhood and city as a whole. It’s a landmark that connects the locals to Hollywood while also ties together the surrounding neighborhood.