Could the Proposed Oscar Hammerstein Museum Have Another Shot in July?

We find out then if Will Hammerstein will appeal the Zoning Board's decision or not.
Left: Oscar Hammerstein II. Photo via Wikimedia Commons. Right: Highland Farm. Photo via Highland Farm B&B website

Left: Oscar Hammerstein II. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.
Right: Highland Farm. Photo via Highland Farm B&B website

By now, you’re likely aware the Doylestown Township Zoning Board has rejected the variances that would have allowed for the proposed Oscar Hammerstein Museum and Theater Education Center, currently a bed & breakfast, to be closer to becoming a reality.

Locals in favor of the project were understandably devastated by the decision, which was made Monday evening, with many showing an outpour of support on the OHM Facebook page.

“I’m so grateful to the volunteers,” says Will Hammerstein, grandson of Oscar Hammerstein II, noting that they, as well as the kind words from supporters, helped soften the blow of yesterday’s decision. On the question of an appeal being a possibility, Hammerstein told us that’s left to be seen for after a formal opinion by a solicitor is published (likely “on or before July 2nd”). Once that’s out, “we’ll go through it in some detail and see if we can find some grounds for appeal,” he said.

If you haven’t been following along on the OHM saga, here is a condensed timeline:

  • January 2015 – The Associated Press reports Will Hammerstein wants to convert his grandfather’s home into a museum with a 400-seat theatre and parking lot. Oscar Hammerstein II is a noted songwriter (the Sound of Music, Oklahoma!, and King and I, anyone?), and many locals react with enthusiasm at the proposed entertainment and cultural center. Some less so.
  • January 2015 – Hammerstein finds out he needs the Zoning Board to grant some variances if this is to happen. Plans look to be on hold for the moment.
  • April 2015 – An “inconclusive” zoning board meeting puts off the decision until June.
  • May 2015 – Zoning Board hears final arguments from the attorneys of those spearheading the project and those opposing it. Two days before the meeting, an online petition in favor of OHM hits 1,000 signatures.
  • June 2015 – Supporters are shocked to hear the Zoning Board reject the request for variances. Hammerstein says he must wait until for the formal opinion of a solicitor in July before making the decision to appeal or not.

Well, if you haven’t already heard, we lost 3-0. So incredibly disappointing. There will be much more to say later. Right now there is just shock and disbelief.

Posted by The Oscar Hammerstein Museum & Theater Education Center on Tuesday, June 16, 2015