Zoning Issues Complicate Plan For Oscar Hammerstein Museum in Doylestown

(A 1948 aerial photo of Oscar Hammerstein II's "Highland Farm."  Photo provided by Will Hammerstein)

(A 1948 aerial photo of Oscar Hammerstein II’s “Highland Farm.” Photo provided by Will Hammerstein)

By Brad Segall

DOYLESTOWN, Pa. (CBS) — A development battle could be brewing in Doylestown (Bucks County), Pa., where the grandson of legendary lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II has visions of a museum and theater on the five-acre property where his grandfather once lived.

(Oscar Hammerstein II, in publicity photo from about 1940)

Hammerstein wrote many of his famed words at Highland Farm, which is now a bed-and-breakfast.  Will Hammerstein, the grandson, heads up a nonprofit group that wants to buy the farm and turn it into an education center that would offer house tours alongside a 400-seat theater and museum.

Saving the property, he believes, is something people understand and can get behind.

“We have an opportunity to present these pieces of Americana in a way that no one can, anywhere else in the world, and they will never be able to — because we have the power of the place,” Will Hammerstein says.

But not everyone is on board yet.  Three township supervisors have concerns about the theater, and the parking area that would go with it.

Hammerstein goes before the zoning board in two weeks, hoping to get the variances he needs to move forward with the project.

Chris Maroc-Please support this worthwhile endeavor. My grandfather, Rex Stout was a close friend and worked tirelessly with Oscar Hammerstein for numerous causes. Oscar Hammerstein was one of our greatest American librettists, theatrical producers, and theatre directors of musicals for almost forty years. He won eight Tony Awards and two Academy Awards.


My visit to Citi Field to see the Met vs. Cubs

CM at Mets game 8-14


I spent a wonderful Saturday night with friends at Citi Field in Flushing, New York. We had a great dinner before the game at the Acela Club overlooking the ball field. We then cheered the Mets on as they beat the Chicago Cubs 7-3. The Mets might not be a great team this year, but they have had no problem taking care of business against one of the worst teams in the league. Citi Field is a beautiful place to watch a ball game. Returning to Flushing brought back memories of going to Shea Stadium with my Mom and grandfather, Rex Stout. My grandfather was a very enthusiastic fans of the New York Mets. My Mom still watches and cheers on her New York Mets every night.


My grandfather-world famous mystery writer, Rex Stout

My grandfather, Rex Todhunter Stout was born in Noblesville, Indiana, December 1, 1886. He was the sixth of nine children born to John and Lucetta Todhunter Stout. Educated in Kansas, he was recognized as a prodigy in arithmetic. After a brief time on campus at the University of Kansas, he quit school to enlist in the Navy where he spent two years as warrant officer on board President Theodore Roosevelt’s yacht.

After the Navy, he began to write and tried his hand at a variety of jobs. With his brother, Robert, Stout devised and implemented a school banking system. Bank Day proved a very successful venture and allowed Stout to move to Paris and write full-time.

He published three novels before he turned to the mystery genre. The books received favorable reviews but were not best sellers. Stout returned to the United States and built a house on the Connecticut-New York state line. Fer-de-Lance, my grandfather’s first Nero Wolfe novel, appeared in 1934.

More than seventy other Nero Wolfe books and stories followed. During World War II, Rex Stout waged a personal campaign against Nazism serving as chairman of the War Writers Board,wrote and broadcast the CBS radio program “Our Secret Weapon,”and was a member of several national committees. After the war, he resumed writing Nero Wolfe novels. In 1959 he won the Mystery Writers of America’s Grand Master Award. My grandfather died October 27, 1975 at the age of 88. A month before his death, he published his final Nero Wolfe book, A Family Affair.

My grandfather was recently inducted in the the New York State Writers Hall of Fame.

On a personal note, my grandfather was very much a family man. He built the family home, High Meadow, near Brewster, NY, around the time of his marriage to Pola Weinbach in 1932. My grandparents raised their two daughters, Becky and Barbara at High Meadow. My grandfather worked primarily from High Meadow.  His hobbies included raising virtually all of our family’s produce and poultry,  kept various pets, including a pony, maintained over 300 house plants as well as large and admired iris beds (almost 200 varieties of bearded irises and over 100 varieties of day lilies), building his own furniture, and being a baseball fan of the Giants, then, after their move, the Mets.