A Season of Firsts at The Hollywood Historical Society

In the past few years, the Hollywood Historical Society has attracted an influx of new members and new thinking which have given this venerable organization a new direction. The HHS is looking forward and bringing Hollywood’s history into the community, with many new programs leading up to the celebration of the city’s 100th anniversary.  

Waterways History Cruise 
The inaugural Waterways History Cruise, held at the end of April, was considered a huge success by both the HHS and their guests.   Underwritten by sponsors Gallup Auerbach Law, Signarama, Florida Advocates, Margaritaville, Splendid Alkaline Water, and Red Chair Catering, the four-hour Water Taxi tour included informative narration by HHS President Clive Taylor, visits to three museums at History Fort Lauderdale, lunch, a history trivia contest with great prizes and of course, a little rain.  The event, originally conceived by Taylor, was adopted as a Leadership Hollywood community project, coordinated by newly-appointed Hollywood Historical Society Executive Director Andy Ruffner and hosted on-site by the LH47 “Andy’s Angels” team!   Plans are already underway for next year. 

Historical Preservation Grant Initiative 
Under the stewardship of Taylor and past president Karen Albertson, the Hollywood Historical Society awarded its first HHS Historical Preservation Grants.  Five $15,000 awards were distributed to Hollywood homeowners for the rebuilding or replacement of original elements of their historical residences.  

The funds for this initiative were raised through HHS advocacy in preserving the historic downtown Hollywood business district. By helping individual homeowners preserve our historic housing stock, the Hollywood Historical Society seeks to build more community support and pride in our city.   

Our Liberia: Making Hollywood History
Under the leadership of Andy Ruffner, the Hollywood Historical Society obtained its own first-time grant from the City of Hollywood, and along with retired South Broward High School teacher (and volunteer extraordinaire!) Susan Ostheim, created “Our Liberia: Making Hollywood History”. This, the first major City-grant-funded education project for the HHS, was originally expected to include about 15 to 20 area middle school students. The teachers they approached were so excited, though, that the project quickly grew to approximately 150 middle and high-school students and 12 teachers from five local schools, and the interest exhibited by the students as the project progressed was exciting and inspiring.

“The Hollywood Historical Society has always had an interest in Liberia,” explained Ostheim, adding that the Society arranged for Liberia to be recognized by the state, with a historical marker in honor of the 100th anniversary of its founding.

At the end of the semester, each team created a presentation in their schools, documenting what they have learned, with the culminating exhibition and celebration held on Memorial Day weekend at an open-to-the-public event at Hollywood’s Young Circle ArtsPark . 

The presentations, with student-developed items, oral histories, reproductions of items from the HHS archives, and more, are also designed to further the participants’ understanding of how historical exhibits are developed and built.

“It’s been very gratifying to see the interest and enthusiasm the students in the program had in learning about the history of Liberia and Hollywood,” noted Ruffner.  “The exhibit pieces created by the students really showed how much they learned through the different phases of the program, and their ability to share it with other students and the community.”

The multi-media exhibit will remain on display until June 30 in the ArtsPark Gallery. 

For more information on “Our Liberia: Making Hollywood History”, please follow HHS on social media.  

The Waterways History Cruise, the Historical Preservation Grant Initiative and “Our Liberia: Making Hollywood History” are just a sampling of the Hollywood Historical Society’s schedule of activities and events supporting its mission to keep the City’s history alive for current and future generations.  The Hollywood Historical Society offers free tours of the Historic Hammerstein House on the first Sunday of every month from 1 to 4 pm, and by appointment. Call 954-923-5590 for info or to schedule.

To learn more about the Hollywood Historical Society, a nonprofit 501(c)(3)* cultural organization founded and operated by volunteers, or to join us, email [email protected], or visit
www.hollywoodhistoricalsociety.org/.   The Hollywood Historical Society has over 20,000 items in its collection and also offers many unique items, including books about Hollywood, historic postcards, photographs, maps, and posters, for sale at the Research Center behind  Hammerstein House at 1520 Polk Street.  Please call 954-923-5590 for hours.