The History of the Hollywood House
"Way back in 1915, a group of public spirited citizens residing the weed-infected, countrified, dirt road community of Hollywood, IL decided that an improvement association should be formed. They desired representation in the Village of Brookfield board meetings, also greatly needed improvements. Thus the Hollywood Citizens Associations was born."
-- by Edith Hyler from the History of Hollywood, IL
The Hollywood subdivision dates back to 1893. Samuel Gross, who marketed lots to Columbian Exposition visitors, developed it. The original subdivision was in the area south of Washington Avenue.
The tract north of Washington was owned by Edith Rockefeller McCormick, a gift from her father, John D. Rockefeller, upon her marriage to Harold F. McCormick. In 1919, Mrs. McCormick sold the property where the community house stands to the Hollywood Citizens Association for $700. She donated much of the remainder of her Hollywood property to the Forest Preserve of Cook County for a zoological garden later that same year.
From its inception, the Hollywood Citizens’ Association began raising funds to build a community building for meetings and to serve as a kindergarten and primary school for their children. Their efforts to erect a school building led them to Mrs. Avery Coonley, a Riverside resident and educational benefactor. In 1919, she donated $15,000 toward the project.
Mrs. Coonley also recommended an architect, William Drummond. Mr. Drummond, a prairie style architect and associate of Frank Lloyd Wright, was paid $900 for the design of the Hollywood Community House.
The next fall, young children from Hollywood no longer had to cross the bridge to get to school in Riverside. The first classes for Kindergarten and 1st and 2nd grades were held in the Hollywood Community House on September 21, 1920. The building continued to serve the early grades until Hollywood School was completed in 1929. The Community House was the neighborhood kindergarten until 1953 when the gym and kindergarten rooms were added to Hollywood School.
Mrs. Coonley’s generous donation did not prove to be enough to complete the Hollywood Community House. A mortgage for $3,500 was taken out in 1920 and fundraising to keep the Community House out of debt continued throughout the decade.
The Hollywood Community House also served as a nondenominational church and Sunday School during the 1920’s and 1930’s. In 1945, the church congregation successfully petitioned to become affiliated with the Chicago Presbytery. The newly formed church began fundraising, purchased land, and moved into their own building on the corner of McCormick and Parkview in 1953.
Through the years the Hollywood Community House has played host to women’s groups; concerts; dances; Fourth of July, Christmas, and Halloween celebrations; and many family functions for neighborhood residents.
In 1987, the HCA and representatives from other communities sharing the Hollywood name defeated the effort of the mayor of Hollywood, California to copyright the name for its exclusive use. It was confirmed at that time that Hollywood, Illinois predates Hollywood, California and may be the inspiration for its name.
In the year 2000, the Hollywood Community House celebrated its 80th anniversary under the ownership and guidance of Hollywood Citizens’ Association.