Zoning board closes curtain on plans for Hammerstein museum, theater in Bucks

 Will Hammerstein, the grandson of Oscar Hammerstein, stands outside  his grandfather's farmhouse in January. (NewsWorks file photo)

Will Hammerstein, the grandson of Oscar Hammerstein, stands outside his grandfather's farmhouse in January. (NewsWorks file photo)

Ambitious plans to save the historic Bucks County home where Oscar Hammerstein wrote some of his most famous Broadway musicals are in serious trouble.

The Doylestown Township zoning board Monday voted to deny variances so Hammerstein’s grandson Will could build a theater and a museum.

William Bolla, the zoning board attorney, said it was not an easy process for either side.

“Oscar Hammerstein was one of the greatest playwrights in the country, and there was a lot of passion behind that,” he said. “Of course, for the people who live next door and around it, there’s a lot of passion behind what would happen if there were a 400-seat theater there.” The zoning board ruled the theater would be inappropriate in a residential zone.

The younger Hammerstein says maintaining the home simply as a house museum won’t work financially.  But he’s not giving up and will still try to prevent the land from being divided for new homes.

“Until they put the first shovel in the ground, to create that godforsaken subdivision they’ve got planned, you know there’s a chance,” he said.

Will Hammerstein says he won’t know whether he has grounds for an appeal until he receives the legal, written ruling from Bolla on July 2.

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