The four-bedroom cottage known as the "Witch's House" had a fascinating history as well as an unusual "funky" appearance, according to Libow. Built originally as a set piece by a Hollywood movie company in Culver City in 1920 and used as office space, the home was featured in a number of silent films during the Roaring '20s and early '30s. Then it was called "The Storybook House." In 1926 it was moved to Beverly Hills, and was occupied as a residence for over 35 years. In the '60s the home was featured in "The Loved One" starring Rod Steiger.
Other than the unusual facade, the one-story house offered a very normal floor plan featuring a loft bedroom. It is about 3,800 square feet. The property also boasts its very own moat.
How did the home become known as the Witch's House? The lady who sold Libow the home used to dress up at Halloween as a witch and pass out candy. Her appearance at the door of the Hansel and Gretel style cottage was enough to earn the home the nickname "Witch's House." Libow says he knows he won't be mistaken for a witch. "I'm now the Keeper of the Moat, " he laughs.
As an agent with the same office that offered the home for sale, Coldwell Banker Beverly Hills South, Libow would show the home to potential buyers who wanted to tear the house down and start over. "I was the only buyer who wanted to save the house." says Libow.
"I feel like I'm saving a piece of Hollywood history," says Libow, who grew up in the neighborhood around the Witch's House. In fact, his parents are still in the area, too.
"There was spirited competitive bidding on the house and to my knowledge I was the only bidder who wanted to save the house," explains Libow. " So I am the local hero to a lot of residents."
And a welcome relief for listing agent, Marty Geimer. As past president of the Beverly Hills Historical Society, it would not have looked good for him if the house had been torn down after purchase. He helped negotiate the purchase for about $1.3 million on a lease-back. The present owner will remain in the property for a period of time.
Stan Richman, manager of the Coldwell Banker Beverly Hills South, says it isn't unusual for an agent to sell a home to another agent in the company.
Neighbors are applauding Libow's plans to restore the property and its moat. He will take possession soon and begin renovations on the interior. The exterior will remain much as it is. Libow plans to use the home as his residence, disclaiming an earlier report that the home would be open for charitable events. Libow is planning to donate the house for one evening to a charity of his choice for a planned event. On October 30th, Paws L.A., an AIDS charitable organization will hold a private party.