DOROTHY DALTON HAMMERSTEIN, THE SILENT FILM ACTRESS WHO CAME TO HOFFMAN ESTATES

She was an actress in Chicago stock companies in 1910.  She moved to Hollywood to become a silent film star in 1914 and starred in over 50 silent films and co-starred with greats such as Rudolph Valentino and William S. Hart. She has a star on the Grauman Theater Hollywood Walk of Fame.  She was the Ingrid Bergman of her day.  In 1924, she married Arthur Hammerstein, the uncle of Oscar Hammerstein II and became Dorothy Dalton Hammerstein.  (The Hammersteins are on the left in the photo below. Her parents, John and Lillian Dalton are to the right. The assumption is that this is their wedding day.)

Dorothy retired from films when she married Arthur and never returned to her busy life in Hollywood.  She was destined to fulfill her lifelong desire to live on a farm.  That farm would be located in what would be the future Village of Hoffman Estates.

In 1943 she and Arthur purchased the Gieseke Farm, located just south of Bode Rd. and west of Roselle Rd, from John and Edwin Gieseke.  They called the farm Cardoa Farm.

Anton Remenih , reporter for the Chicago Daily Tribune,  interviewed Dorothy and Arthur in their unassumingly  simple yet cozy farm living room.  It was Aug., 11 1946, a busy time on the Hammerstein farm.  Dorothy was raising a herd of prized Holsteins and Duroc Jersey hogs.  “Dorothy was content.”  But Arthur said “It is I who named the place Headacres.  This is “Mrs. Hammerstein’s project” he said. He would have much preferred to be back working on Broadway.  Having been a successful writer of light opera on Broadway, he found it hard to be retired and living a quiet rural life.

Dorothy loved working with her beef and dairy herds.  Remenih reported that “She was also an accomplished equestrian and enjoyed riding her favorite mount Star.”  Dorothy always rode Star as she inspected the 275 acre farm.”

Dorothy enjoyed remodeling their 100 year old farm from a small house to a 5 bedroom, 7 bath home with servant quarters and surprisingly, a kitchen in the basement along with the wine cellar.  She brought along her lifetime collection of antiques as well as autographed pictures of Victor Herbert and others who starred with her during her silent movie career.

In addition to remodeling the farmhouse, Dorothy and Arthur added several barns and new silos to house and feed the cattle, hogs and horses.  Feed for the animals were grown on their 275 acres.  It was a beautiful and well maintained farm that would soon be sold to F & S Construction upon the death of Arthur on October 12, 1955.  It had been just 12 short years that Dorothy had lived her dream of being a farmer.   She moved back to New York to be with family and friends until her death in April of 1972 at the age of 78.

The farm that Dorothy loved so would become our most historic piece of property–our first village hall, police department and public works department.  It is now the Children’s Advocacy Center on Illinois Blvd. in Parcel C.

Pat Barch
Hoffman Estates Village Historian
eagle2064@comcast.net

Our guest contributor this week is Pat Barch, the Hoffman Estates Historian.  This column originally appeared in the June 2018 issue of the Hoffman Estates Citizen, the village’s newsletter.  The column appears here, courtesy of the Village of Hoffman Estates.

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