Hollywood Historical Society Home Gets a Facelift

At 1520 Polk Street sits the Hammerstein House & Research Center, the former home of Clarence P. “Hamm” and Vera Hammerstein, who dwelled in the beautiful home from 1935 until Clarence’s death in 1986, when he left it to the city of Hollywood to become the home of the Hollywood Historical Society (HHS).’

Actually, Hamm made this arrangement while he was still alive, allowing the Historical Society to hold meetings in the house while he lived out the rest of his life there rent-free.

Since then, the city has honored this agreement, leasing the entire property to the HHS, a completely member-supported 501(c)(3) non-profit cultural and educational organization, for $1 a year.  In exchange, the HHS has kept it pretty much as it was when Hamm and Vera lived there…until the HHS Board of Directors decided that it was time for a cleaning and facelift of the house that Hamm built. 

How do you bring an 85-year-old house into the present, without sacrificing its old-world charm?  It’s a skill that the HHS team worked hard to maintain as they got to work.  The plumbing, electricity, and landscaping needed updating.  The drawers and cabinets were haphazardly stuffed with beautiful china, crystal, and linens.  The window treatments were mismatched, and the whole house needed painting inside and out. 

Over the next few months, security systems and new lighting were installed, glass, china and silver were cleaned, polished and organized, and bathrooms were made usable again. Window treatments were replaced and made consistent throughout the house.  

The entire house was repainted and exterior lighting was installed, which, along with new landscaping, makes the house a City Beautiful showplace.  This is all due to the hard work of the HHS House Beautification Committee, the generosity of the Windhover Foundation and the Quadracci Family, which underwrote the clean-up, and the many volunteers and craftspeople who donated their time and expertise to make it happen..

To learn more about the Hollywood Historical Society, please email [email protected]
or visit www.hollywoodhistoricalsociety.org