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Landmark Faces Demolition if $1.75 Million Price Isn’t Met

February 19, 1987

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) _ The old Witch’s House is for sale, and the sellers are threatening the fairy-tale landmark with an enchanted wrecking ball unless they get $1.75 million.

Martin and Doris Green, who bought the two-bedroom, 3,700-square-foot house 21 years ago, are firm on their price despite warnings by their broker that they were asking too much.

Generations of gawkers and tour buses have been drawn to the 58-year-old Halloween-motif house, the epitome of gingerbread with a rooftop broomstick, frogs in the moat and a cauldron in the front hall.

A word of warning to would-be buyers: Visitors can be overbearing.

″People come up and eat their blackberries and pick their roses,″ said Joy Shefter, a neighbor for eight years. ″You wouldn’t believe the things that people do.″

And on Halloween, a stream of trick-or-treaters descend on the home, decorated by the Greens with dozens of pumpkins and plastic cats with blinking eyes.

″The kids arrive by the truckload,″ said another neighbor. Neighbors who stay home usually give out 1,500 to 2,000 pieces of candy before the night is over.

The possibility of demolition has rankled preservationists. It is, after all, the only witch’s house in town.

″It has caused a storm from Beverly Hills to Culver City, a storm of anguish and worry,″ said Marc Wanamaker of the Los Angeles Conservancy.

″It has significant historical value,″ said Don Hunt, vice president of Hollywood Heritage, which hopes to save the house. ″It’s played an important role in Los Angeles just from the standpoint of its recognition. From the day it was built, it was a tourist attraction.″

The Witch’s House was built in 1920 in Culver City, where it was office, dressing room and editing facility for Irvin V. Willat Productions.

When the building opened, a Los Angeles Express story said that despite the ″tumbled down″ look the office was ″equipped with the most modern appurtenances.″

The studio was sold to a developer in 1925, then to a family who moved the building the five miles to Beverly Hills. Forty years later, Martin Green bought it from Lilian Spadena. The Greens won’t say how much they paid.

Gina Ralbag of Fred Sands Realtors, which has listed the Witch’s House, said if the Greens tore it down and put something newer and bigger in its place they could get up to $2.4 million for it.

″They’ve enjoyed the house,″ Ralbag said. ″But now they’re interested in cashing in on it.″

So far, only one potential buyer has come along. That person offered $1 million for the property alone, Ms. Ralbag said, adding he wanted to tear down the Witch’s House.

Preservationist groups say they plan to look for a place to move the house in the event anyone decides to destroy it.

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