Historic Hollywood House should stay

Opinion: Letters to the editor

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The following is a rebuttal to the repugnant offer that was made to the Hollywood Citizens Association by the Riverside Public School District 96 Board to purchase the property that is under the guardianship of the association.

It is apparent to me that the members of the school board have not read their mission statement, "respect for self, community and the environment." The autocratic method by which they published this offer is an example of their lack of respect for the community. 

The parents of the children received notice of the offer, yet the rest of Hollywood did not. Upon reading through the taxing district breakdown on my property tax bill, I noticed that 38 percent of my bill was earmarked for District 96. This is more than Riverside-Brookfield High School and Triton Community College combined. Yet, those households who do not have children attending District 96 were not informed or consulted. Where is the respect?

Hollywood is indeed historic and marked by the influence of legendary names Samuel Gross, Edith Rockefeller McCormick, Mrs. Avery Coonley and William Drummond, an associate of Frank Lloyd Wright. 

Hollywood House was officially opened in 1920 and predates Hollywood School by three years. In fact, Hollywood served as the kindergarten and primary school before Hollywood School was opened. Hollywood House served as the temporary home of the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood until it was built. It was home to Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts and other community organizations.

If you look at the pillars that hold up a community, an understanding of its history connects the citizens to the traditions and culture that define a community. Without a preservation of this history, the community will lose one of its foundations. 

Why bring this up? The school board has no intention of preserving the historic Hollywood House – making way for more playground space and parking for the teachers. I am aware of one board member stating that he did not understand why the Hollywood House should be preserved. 

I wonder how Riverside residents would feel about removing the gas lights, tearing down the old water tower or removing the restrictions designed to protect the legacy of Olmsted. I wonder how the Brookfield Historical Society would feel about razing the Grossdale Station? I wonder how the Oak Park Historical Society would feel about razing the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio or the Hemingway House? Make no mistake about it, this school board will raze the historic Hollywood House.

The Hollywood Citizens Association owns the property that Hollywood School currently uses for the playground, the driveway to the parking/play area and the land west of the building. The Hollywood Citizens Association provides many of these areas for Hollywood School to use without any charge.

The Hollywood Citizens Associated has countered the offer with allowing Riverside Public School District with an offer to purchase a portion of their property to the east, including the drive for teacher parking and play space for the children. As of this date, they have refused this offer.

In addition, I recommend to those households of Hollywood to join the Hollywood Citizens Association, a bargain for only $20, so as to protect one of the pillars that helps to define the community that we love, Hollywood.

Michael Kayse


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