Southeastern PA

Broadway aims to save the history of Hammerstein's farm

VIDEO: Hammerstein's farm looking to...

DOYLESTOWN, Pa. - Will the curtain soon close on Oscar Hammerstein's Bucks County Farm or will the spotlight shine once again?

After gaining township approval for a house museum last fall, the nonprofit trying to save it still needs to raise millions to buy it. However, Broadway is giving it a boost.

As singer Doreen Taylor sings there's perhaps no better spot to showcase the Broadway tune "Show Boat" than inside the home where Oscar Hammerstein wrote it.

"Look at the landscape. 'Oh What a Beautiful Morning' was the first song wrote on the property, how could you not be inspired by the property?" Taylor said. 

Taylor is so inspired by Hammerstein's Doylestown Farm that she's performing 10 shows on the songwriter's life Off Broadway in New York City, with proceeds going to save the farm.

"This is not something, you know, like a mini mart that we don't want to tear down. This is real history," she said.

Currently the home is a B&B but the owner wants to sell.

For the past several years, Hammerstein's grandson Will has been working to raise funds to buy it.

Last fall the township gave approval for a plan that includes a house and barn museum, but it's contingent on Will owning the property.

The property has also been approved for a four-home subdivision, meaning if the money isn't raised, the pool, barn and home could all be gone.

"If a bulldozer comes in and knocks down this house it says we don't care about history," Will stated. "There is something special about this place and we should take advantage of it in a good way."

Will wants the home and property to be a mecca for learning about not only Hammerstein's musical fame but also about his life struggles and the social conscious issues he took on.

His long term plan also includes a regional theater in Doylestown Borough that would showcase Hammerstein musicals.

Doylestown Borough Councilman Don Berk says the borough welcomes that plan and despite some initial opposition the project has community support. 

"Hammerstein is Bucks County's greatest artist. He is the person who wrote here. Did his most productive work in this building. It's a national treasure," Berk said.

And perhaps with a boost from Broadway a new spotlight will shine on Hammerstein's legacy.


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