Proposed Oscar Hammerstein Museum Faces Opposition

Proposed Oscar Hammerstein Museum Faces Opposition

The Republic reported today a proposal for a tourist attraction based around Oscar Hammerstein's former Philidelphia home. Despite the efforts of his grandson, however, the plan was not well-received by public officials or neighbors.

Hammerstein purchased Highland Farm in 1940, and spent 20 years there writing several much-loved musicals with Richard Rodgers, including "Oklahoma!" and "The Sound of Music." Hammerstein died in 1960, and his widdow sold the land.

After several decades and inhabitants, current owner Christine Cole turned the house into a bed and breakfast with each room dedicated to a different Rodgers and Hammerstein musical. In 2010, Hammerstein's grandson Will Hammerstein, in town for a school reunion, made reservations at the bed and breakfast, never having seen the inside of his granfather's former home.

Cole and Will Hammerstein developed a plan to turn the property into the Oscar Hammerstein II Music & Theatre Education Center. Visitors would receive a tour of the house and a museum exhibit in the barn, as well as an actual performance. It would require building a 400-seat venue, plus a parking lot for nearly 100 cars and several buses, on the now five-acre lot.

Doylestown Township supervisors and neighbors object to the $20 million proposal, voicing concerns about noise, traffic, and stormwater runoff. A zoning hearing will be held Jan. 12.

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From This Author Anna Bencivengo

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