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Making a difference: Hershey Optimist Club

Hershey is fortunate to have several service organizations. While clubs have come and gone, they all exist to provide opportunities for individuals to make a difference in their community.

 

Hershey YMCA and the Busy Men's Doggy Bow-Wow at a dinner held at the Hershey Cafe. 3/1913

Hershey YMCA and the Busy Men’s Doggy Bow-Wow at a dinner held at the Hershey Cafe. 3/1913

 

The Archives is fortunate to have the records of a number of different service organizations that have operated in Hershey. Some are still going strong, while others have passed away.  To learn more about the community collections held by the Archives, follow this link.

 

Hershey Optimist Club members practice for an upcoming event at the Little Theater in the Community Building. ca1962-1963

Hershey Optimist Club members practice for an upcoming event at the Little Theater in the Community Building. ca1962-1963

 

The Hershey Optimist Club was founded in 1954, when it was sponsored by the Lebanon Optimist Club. An initial organizational dinner was held on May 5, 1954 with 13 prospective members in attendance. On May 19, 16 charter members attended the organizational meeting and elected officers.  By the time the charter closed on June 2, Hershey Optimist Club had 40 members. The Club held its Charter Party on September 25, 1954 at the Hershey Park Golf Club.  Regular meetings thereafter were held in the Community Building dining room.

 

Junior hockey team sponsored by the Hershey Optimist Club.  Coach Arnie Kullman is pictured on right. ca1960-1970

Junior hockey team sponsored by the Hershey Optimist Club. Coach Arnie Kullman is pictured on right. ca1960-1970

 

The Club has always focused its efforts towards helping and supporting the youth of the community. During its long years of operation, the Hershey Optimist Club sponsored youth athletic teams and programs promoting safety, education, respect for the law, and civic duty in Hershey’s youth. Over the years, Hershey Optimists sponsored a variety of programs including Bike Safety Week, the Oratorical Contest, the Respect for Law program, Boys Work projects, and Youth Appreciation Week.

 

In recent years the Hershey Optimist Club struggled to attract new members. In 2007 the club’s charter was revoked and the chapter was officially closed.

 

The Hershey Idea

Milton Hershey envisioned building a community in which all the parts were interwoven.  He built a model town for the workers of chocolate factory AND the workers in the businesses he established to provide services to make the town an attractive and functional place to live.

 

His desire to share his approach to business was communicated in recurring articles in the local weekly newspaper, The Hershey Press

 

Hershey's Progressive Weekly, July 10, 1913.  page 10

Hershey’s Progressive Weekly, July 10, 1913. page 10

 

For a short while, Milton Hershey even considered publishing a monthly magazine, to be titled, “The Hershey Idea.” Plans for the magazine were laid out in a full page ad that appeared in the Hershey Press.

 

The magazine promised to “attach the oppressions of dishonest Capitalism and the unjust assaults of Labor upon Capital. . .” It would include political and economic news in an “absolutely unbiased and judicial manner.”  It would also have a short story section.  The advertisement noted that the magazine’s first issue would be published in September 1913.

 

We don’t know why, but the magazine never materialized.

 

However, “The Hershey Idea” continued as an important philosophy of how Milton Hershey conducted business.

 

Team Work Sells the Hershey Idea.  Memo issued to all Hershey employees.  1938

Team Work Sells the Hershey Idea. Memo issued to all Hershey employees. 1938

 

The 1938 memo outlined Milton Hershey’s vision for his community and how he hoped all the different businesses would recognize that they were part of a larger whole.  What is fascinating about the memo today is that it continues to reflect how Milton Hershey’s businesses continue to try to work together for the benefit of consumers and visitors to the town today.

 

The text of the memo follows:

 

TEAM WORK
SELLS THE HERSHEY IDEA

     Visitors coming to Hershey should readily be sold on the HERSHEY IDEA as our facilities and attractions are not to be excelled.

      The public and our customers regard all our enterprises as one institution. This places a real responsibility on all enterprises alike because any lack of courtesy or efficiency in any one enterprise almost certainly reflects into every other enterprise in the customers mind and patronage. This applies impressively to customers and residents of Hershey.

     This element means greatly accumulated results for good or bad. Any customer lost by one enterprise for any reason of times produces a total loss of patronage for all other enterprises of the whole institution.

     We must depend almost entirely for creating the proper atmosphere by real efficient service and the co-operation of all enterprises.

Signed M.S. Hershey

 

A Neat Folder.
This can be made effective if you will sign and distribute to every clerk in the Hershey Department Store, down the line, including the Hershey National Bank.

Building Hershey: C.Emlen Urban

 

C_Emlen_Urban

C. Emlen Urban, 1863-1939. (Image courtesy of LancasterHistory.org)

 

This Sunday (October 5, 2014) The Hershey Story and the Hershey-Derry Township Historical Society are hosting a special walking tour of our downtown.  The tour will highlight some of the many buildings designed by noted architect, Cassius Emlem Urban, better known as Emlen to his friends. Mr. Urban was responsible for the design of some of Hershey’s most iconic buildings, including the Convention Hall, High Point and the Hershey Press Building.  It is remarkable to think that when you walk down Chocolate Avenue, much of what stands was designed by one architect.

 

Chocolate Avenue, 2007

Chocolate Avenue, 2007

 

So how did a Lancaster born and bred architect come to play such an important role in shaping the physical look of Hershey?

 

Cassius Emlen Urban (1863-1939) was born in Conestoga Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  After graduating from Lancaster’s Boys High School, he apprenticed as a draftsman at a Scranton architectural firm before returning to Lancaster in 1886.  That was the same year Milton Hershey also returned to establish the Lancaster Caramel Company.

 

Watt & Shand Department Store, Lancaster, PA. ca1905. Designed by C.Emlen Urban

Watt & Shand Department Store, Lancaster, PA. ca1905. Designed by C.Emlen Urban

 

Like Milton Hershey, Urban’s career quickly took off as he received commissions to design what became many of Lancaster’s signature buildings: Southern Market on Queen Street (1886), Watt and Shand Department Store (1898), and St. James Lutheran Church parish House on Duke Street (1903).

 

While Urban and Hershey must have at least  been aware of each other due to their close ages and similar status as members of Lancaster’s most notable young business owners, they also met socially through the Hamilton Club, a private men’s club, established in 1889 by some of Lancaster’s most prominent business and political leaders.  Milton Hershey was invited to join in 1893, a sure sign of his growing prominence in the Lancaster business and social circles.  Through the Hamilton Club, Milton Hershey established and nurtured relationships that became invaluable when he began making plans for his new chocolate factory and the model community that would surround it.

 

C. Emlen Urban played a significant role shaping the look of the community.  Urban was responsible for the design of all the new town’s major buildings constructed between 1903 and 1926:

 

Hershey Chocolate Factory, postcard view. 1909

Hershey Chocolate Factory, postcard view. 1909

 

List of C. Emlen Urban designed buildings in Hershey:

1903    Original Hershey Chocolate Company Offices and Factory    (demolished 1931)

1905    Cocoa House (1 Chocolate Avenue) (demolished 1963)

1908    High Point

1910    McKinley Building 1910 expansion (demolished 1928)

1914    M.S. Hershey Consolidated Building

1914    Hershey Trust Company (1 W. Chocolate Avenue)

1915*  Community Building and Hershey Theatre (14 E. Chocolate Avenue)

1915    Convention Hall

1916    Hershey Press Building

1909-1916       Mansions along Chocolate Avenue

 

*Urban was also responsible for the design of the Community Building and Theatre, even though the structure was not constructed until 1932.  The designs and the intent to construct it was announced in the Hershey Press newspaper in 1915.  The United States’ entry into World War I delayed the start of construction.  A variety of financial and business related obstacles delayed the start of construction until 1928.

Back to School! Again!

Dedication of the M.S. Hershey Consolidated School. 1914

Dedication of the M.S. Hershey Consolidated School. 1914

 

By now, students everywhere are back in school.  We can definitely feel it here in Hershey, as Hersheypark has closed, except for a few more weekends, and Hershey residents can drive through town without being slowed by tourist traffic.

 

Hershey residents take pride in the quality of our public school system.  Good schools were valued by Milton Hershey and he made significant contributions to ensure that Hershey children would have access to a quality education.

 

2014 marks the centennial of Milton Hershey’s first significant gift to Hershey’s public schools: the M.S. Hershey Consolidated School of Derry Township.  Dedicated on October 13, 1914, the M.S. Hershey Consolidated School offered education for grades 1-12.  The building had 18 class rooms on three floors, a kindergarten, library, bathrooms, playrooms and lunch rooms.

 

Class portrait, Derry Township School District. ca.1920-1930

Class portrait, Derry Township School District. ca.1920-1930

 

The building was designed to serve up to 850 students.  Students began their academic career as kindergartners on the first level and literally worked their way through the building, grade by grade.  Students finally made their way to the top floor for their High School years.

 

Hershey Junior-Senior High School, graduating class.  ca.1925-1950

Hershey Junior-Senior High School, graduating class. ca.1925-1950

 

This school building was only one of many gifts Milton Hershey would make to the Derry Township School District during his lifetime.    You can read more about the history of Hershey public education here and here.

 

Time to shop!

Hershey Store Company offered a full range of goods, including clothing, furniture, tools and groceries.  ca1910-1920

Hershey Store Company offered a full range of goods, including clothing, furniture, tools and groceries. ca1910-1920

 

For many children, next week means back to school.  A lot of shopping will be taking place between now and Monday to prepare for a new year.  

 

In Hershey, shopping options have evolved over the years.  Today, Hershey has a wide array of retail venues that are housed at an outlet center located off of Hersheypark Drive.  Shopping downtown is limited, to say the least.  It wasn’t always this way.

 

Hershey Store Company opened in 1910.  It offered a full range of goods for sale.  1912

Hershey Store Company opened in 1910. It offered a full range of goods for sale. 1912

 

Milton Hershey’s plans for a model industrial town included establishing a store to meet the community’s shopping needs.  Like many of his other ventures, the first store, established in 1907, was a modest venture, located in a corner of the Cocoa House.  This general store soon expanded, quickly outgrowing its original location.  In 1909 a building was begun on the southwest corner of Chocolate and Cocoa Avenues to house the rapidly growing business.  This new building was designed with a Spanish style of architecture, with projecting red-tiled eaves and stuccoed walls.  When first erected the building formed a perfect a square, 120′ on each side with 2 stories and a basement.  A addition was built in 1911.

 

The Hershey Store Company offered many different things to its customers.  The store liked to boast that it could care for people’s needs ‘from cradle to grave.’  A article in the  May 28, 1914 issue of the Hershey Press, stated:

 

The store can furnish the lumber, hardware and other materials to build a house, can furnish the workmen to supply complete lighting equipment, can install any kind of heating and plumbing system and can furnish it (the house) throughout from the stove in the kitchen to the elegant suite for the parlor, including carpet, rugs, shades and everything needed or desired for the house.  It can furnish clothing for the whole family with groceries, meats and vegetables, ice for preservation and coal to cook them.  From the west annex it can supply the farmer with tools and machinery, with carriages and wagons, with seeds and feed for stock, and can shoe his horse and repair his wagons and harnesses.

 

A drug store was available within the store with a druggist on duty until 10:00 every night.  There were services available in the basement including cobbling, electrical heating, plumbing and tinning departments.  The store also took orders for automobiles and had a bakery.

 

Hershey Department Store.  ca1926-1935

Hershey Department Store. ca1926-1935

 

As it continued to expand its services, merchandise and business, the store again outgrew its confines.  In 1920 it relocated across the street to the Hershey Press Building, standing on the corner of Chocolate and Park Avenues. This three story building covered nearly 60,000 square feet, more than twice as much as had the previous location.  The business was renamed the Hershey Department Store and operated from this location until it closed in 1973.

Taking to the skies: Hershey Air Park

Hershey Chocolate store window display, ca.1930-1932

Hershey Chocolate store window display, ca.1930-1932

By the 1930s, air travel had moved from fantasy to reality for more and more people.  Small airfields seemed to be popping up everywhere as various government departments worked to encourage a network of air fields across the United States.  In addition to providing landing strips for private airplanes, these air fields provided mechanical repairs and maintenance, as well as offering flying lessons and sight-seeing tours.  With Hershey’s emergence as a regional destination in the 1930s, it was only a matter of time before Hershey had its own air field.

During the last years of World War II, the Pennsylvania Aeronautics Commission, represented by William Anderson,  encouraged communities across the state to build local airfields. In respond to growing numbers of people who wanted air service to and from Hershey and those who wanted the opportunity to view Hershey from the air, Hershey Estates opened the Hershey Air Park on July 31, 1944.

 

Hershey Air Park, 6/28/1946

Hershey Air Park, 6/28/1946

 

The original air field was located across the street from Hershey Park and just below the Hershey Rose Garden.  An unnamed road separated it from Hershey Park.  Until this point the road had been referred to as the access road to Route 22.  It was now officially named:  Airport Road.

 

To manage the air park, Hershey Estates selected Herbert Erdman, a World War II pilot and the son of Harry Erdman, Hershey’s horticulturist and manager of the Hershey Nursery.

 

The Air Park offered a variety of services, including airplane storage in hangers, flying lessons and sight-seeing tours.

 

Hershey Air Park, 1950

Hershey Air Park, 1950

 

The local sight-seeing flights lasted from 10 to 60 minutes and cost $2.00 to $7.50.  A ten-minute flight provided an overview of Hershey.  The hour long sight-seeing trip took passengers throughout the Lebanon Valley and included Harrisburg, Elizabethtown, Cornwall and Fort Indiantown Gap.

 

Planes were also available for rent at the rate of $7.00 per hour.

 

Harry Williamson, manager of Hershey Air Park, ca.1951-1973.

Harry Williamson, manager of Hershey Air Park, ca.1951-1973.

 

About 1951-1953, Harry Williamson became the manager of Hershey Air Park. Under his management, the air park expanded with additional hangers for the storage of private airplanes whose owners rented space for their aircraft. Williamson also represented Piper aircraft, selling airplanes.  He served as manager until 1972-1973.

 

Plane landing at Hershey Air Park, ca.1960-1980

Plane landing at Hershey Air Park, ca.1960-1980

 

The Air Park was a popular addition to Hershey’s amenities and was featured frequently in Hershey News articles.

 

The Air Park was enlarged in 1965. That year a small mound was removed and the runway was expanded to 3000 feet and paved.

 

About 1972-1973 Bob Mumma leased the Air Park.  The air park was renamed Derry Aire.  The lease passed to someone else a few years later.

 

It closed on January 31, 1981.  Without an air park located along the road, Airport Road was renamed Hersheypark Drive in March 1981.

 

When you drive along Hersheypark Drive now, you can still see remnants of the air park.  Today the area is used for overflow parking, the Antique Auto Show in October and the Pennsylvania State Police trainees use it to practice their driving skills.

Reese’s Pieces: E.T’s Favorite Candy

Reese's Pieces were introduced in 1978.

Reese’s Pieces were introduced in 1978.

 

How a great candy was saved from oblivion by a small alien visitor from outer space OR the story of Reese’s Pieces, E.T.’s favorite candy.

 

In the 1950s, Hershey Chocolate developed the capability for panning; that is, sugar-coating a product.  M&Ms are probably the best known example of a panned candy product.  Hershey’s first panned product was Hershey-Ets, candy-coated chocolate discs or lentils.  One marketing challenge for this new product was that when the company introduced Hershey-Ets, people would say, “What is it?”  And to define it, you had to use the competitor’s name.  That’s a pretty difficult situation.  The product was eventually discontinued, except for holiday and seasonal applications.

 

Hershey-ets single serving bag, 1 3/4 oz., 1961-1968

Hershey-ets single serving bag, 1 3/4 oz., 1961-1968

 

This was Hershey’s first attempt at a marketing a panned product.

 

Flash forward a couple decades.

 

In the 1970s, Hershey Chocolate developed a formula for sweetened peanut meal with the consistency of chocolate.  It became the basis for Reese’s Pieces, which were made using the same procedures and equipment as Hershey-Ets.

 

The new product was originally named PBs.  But PBs wasn’t a proper name and the product was soon rechristened Reese’s Pieces.

 

At that time, Hershey was building a new manufacturing plant in Stuart’s Draft, Virginia, and Hershey planned to manufacture Reese’s Pieces there, in addition to the manufacturing in Hershey.

 

Hershey Chocolate supported the introduction of Reese's Pieces with advertising and promotional coupons.  1980

Hershey Chocolate supported the introduction of Reese’s Pieces with advertising and promotional coupons. 1980

 

The product launch was successful.  Reese’s Pieces sales went up significantly, held a little bit and then started coming down, not at an alarming rate, but it was certainly a bit disturbing, particularly since the company was in the process of building additional manufacturing capability.

 

About that time, Hershey Chocolate  received a call from Universal Studios, and they said that Steven Spielberg was producing a movie called “E.T.,” and they had decided to use Reese’s Pieces and the candy would play a featured part in the picture.  Over the phone, Universal invited Hershey to cooperate by promoting the picture.

 

Jack Dowd, then Director, New Products Development, traveled to California to meet officials from Universal Studios.  The plot was sketched out, and Universal explained that this creature was lured into the house by Reese’s Pieces.  The vice president said to Jack that they had decided not to use M&Ms.  Trying to come up with an alternative candy, he had asked his son, “What would you use?”  And his son said, “Reese’s Pieces.”  The vice president said he had never heard of Reese’s Pieces until that moment.

 

Dowd thought the project looked like something worthwhile.  Dowd knew Reese’s Pieces needed some special promotion to save it.  He agreed that Hershey Chocolate would support the movie with about a million dollars’ worth of marketing.  Hershey would create consumer promotions, trade promotions, and displays, featuring “E.T.”  In return, Hershey Chocolate would have an exclusive in the confectionery field for promotion and advertising.

 

This was the first time Hershey Chocolate had agreed to partner with Hollywood in the promotion of a movie and its use of a Hershey product.

 

Jack Dowd, in his 1991 oral history interview, remembered:

 

So I came home and informed Earl Spangler (Hershey Chocolate president) and the staff that we were going to spend a million dollars on a movie that I couldn’t show them the script for, that was going to employ a little green creature from outer space, and I couldn’t show them–at that point it was still confidential–I couldn’t show them a picture of that either.  I hadn’t seen it either.  I didn’t know what it would look like.

 

Earl said, “Are you sure this is going to work?”

 

And I said, “Oh, sure.”  Because what else could I say?  If I said, “Oh, no,” then we’d have to cancel it and I’d already signed up for it. 

 

Reese's Pieces was E.T.'s favorite candy.  Promotional poster, 1982

Reese’s Pieces was E.T.’s favorite candy. Promotional poster, 1982

 

We were going to offer a tee-shirt that had a picture of E.T.  We wanted a picture, and they sent us a picture of E.T. and the little boy.  I proudly showed the picture at the staff meeting, and Earl [Spangler] said, “That is the ugliest creature I have ever seen in my whole life.”  There’s no answer to that.  You just sit quietly and let the eruption die down. 

 

There was a special screening of the movie in the Hershey Lodge theater shortly after it premiered in New York City. The theater was filled with employees and their families.

 

At the end, the screen went black and there was total silence.  Nobody seemed to want to get off the mountain; they wanted to stay up there.  And then there was enormous applause. 

 

So I ran out in the lobby to watch the faces of the people that came by.  Many of them were tear-stained.  And Earl, who is a very emotional man, came out and his eyes were quite moist, and I said, “Is he still ugly, Earl?”

 

And Earl said, “Ah, he’s beautiful.”  And that was one of the high spots of the whole performance.

 

The movie was an enormous hit.  The publicity was incredible.  And the demand was tremendous, and fortunately just at that time the Stuart’s Draft plant came on stream and we were able to meet the demand, and the sales were more, far more than we expected.

 

Read Jack Dowd’s complete story on the Archives’ website.

 

 

A key to the past: Hershey Chocolate Factory architectural plans

Aerial view of Hershey Chocolate Factory.  ca.1920-1925

Aerial view of Hershey Chocolate Factory. ca.1920-1925

 

This week’s blog post was provided by Archives Assistant, Julia Morrow.

 

The original Hershey Chocolate Factory has dominated the streetscape of Chocolate Avenue in Hershey, PA ever since ground was broken in 1903.  The factory is not a single structure, but a complex of buildings that were constructed over several decades.  Once Milton S. Hershey started building, he didn’t stop; new buildings and renovations were added to the factory as Hershey Chocolate Company expanded.  Hershey’s original chocolate factory closed in 2012 and is currently undergoing partial demolition.

 

The buildings may have not withstood the test of time, but their blueprints have been saved.  Factory blueprints were transferred to the Hershey Community Archives in 2013. These architectural plans trace the evolution and growth of the Hershey Chocolate Factory compound over the last hundred years.

 

Architect Urban's design plan for a new Hershey chocolate factory. ca.1903

Architect Urban’s plan for a new Hershey chocolate factory. ca.1903

 

Nationally recognized architect, C. Emlen Urban, was the original architect for the Hershey Chocolate Factory.  Working with Milton S. Hershey on the development of Hershey, PA from 1903 into the 1920s, C. Emlen Urban is responsible for many of Hershey’s most beloved buildings.

 

Twenty four of Urban’s earliest blueprints of the factory, drawn in 1903, remain.  Many of these blueprints are detailed floor plans which provide important information including the functional layout of the factory.  For example, the “Cocoa Bean Roasting Hulling” room was located next to the “Cocoa Press” room.  By studying the floor plans, you can see how Milton S. Hershey organized the production process of his famous Milk Chocolate.

 

While these plans provide extremely detailed information as to the layout and construction of the factory, they can be appreciated on another level.  Each individual plan was drafted by hand, resulting in a hand-drawn work of art.  Today, architectural plans are created on computers, using drafting software.

 

Urban’s factory plans also included elevations of the factory facades.  This collection provides one of the earliest views of how the Hershey Chocolate Factory would look from the outside.  One particular plan shows the southern and western facades of the Hershey Chocolate Factory’s Cocoa Powder, Sugar Mill, and Mixing building.

 

Hershey Chocolate Factory, western elevation. Original design by C. Emlen Urban. ca.1903

 

Hershey Chocolate factory, birdseye view.  ca.1909

Hershey Chocolate factory, birdseye view. ca.1909

 

Compare the images of the factory elevations with the postcard view of the original factory.   While some of the architectural elements were incorporated into actual construction, such as the cupolas and the window design, the original factory as envisioned by Emlen Urban, was not built as he initially imagined the building.

 

This original plan also does not include a key that would provide a drawing scale and other architectural information.  It is probable that C. Emlen Urban created this plan to convey his vision for the factory buildings to Milton Hershey.  The beautiful detail work on this blueprint, and the numerous other factory blueprints in the collection ensure that although the physical buildings may be gone, the original Hershey Chocolate Factory will live on.

A new ride for a new park: Trailblazer Roller Coaster

Trailblazer roller coaster, birds' eye view.  ca.1974-1985

Trailblazer roller coaster, birds’ eye view. ca.1974-1985

 

Did you know that Hersheypark has 12 (12!) roller coasters? And that most of them have been added to the park in the last 23 years?

 

For most of the Park’s existence, only one roller coaster was present.  Hershey Park’s first roller coaster, The Wild Cat, began operating in 1923.  In 1946, it was disassembled to make way for the park classic, The Comet, a wooden, out and back coaster that is still a mainstay of the park today.

 

After Hershey Park decided to reimagine itself as a themed amusement park in 1971, many changes were made.  The park moved to a single price admission plan, created themed areas and began adding new and exciting rides, as well as a wide variety of entertainment.

 

In 1974 Hersheypark (now one word) added a second roller coaster:  the Trailblazer.

 

 

Hersheypark's Trailblazer roller coaster trains coming around a sharp bend.  ca1977-1985

Hersheypark’s Trailblazer roller coaster trains coming around a sharp bend. ca1977-1985

 

The new roller coaster was designed by Duell and Associated and built by the Arrow Development Company of Mountain View, California.  The Trailblazer was a modern, high-speed steel roller coaster. Unlike traditional wooden coasters, steel coasters are made with tubular steel track which can be bent in any direction.  This allowed Duell to incorporate tight turns into Trailblazer’s ride.

 

The Trailblazer was located near Spring Creek and was incorporated the hillside, blending the ride into its surroundings.

 

The Trailblazer was 1,874 feet long and featured a series of tight curves that turned riders completely sideways.  The ride had three trains with five cars each that could carry up to twelve hundred passengers per hour.

 

Shortly after the Trailblazer roller coaster opened, the Park added the Trailblazer Theater and Saloon, building on the western themed area.  ca.1976-1980

Shortly after the Trailblazer roller coaster opened, the Park added the Trailblazer Theater and Saloon, building on the western themed area. ca.1976-1980

 

The Trailblazer along with the Dry Gulch Railroad was the beginning of the park’s frontier theme area.

 

Providing for the community: Hershey Hospital

Milton Hershey’s commitment to providing a wide range of services was impressive.  While opportunities for education, recreation and cultural activities have often been described in various publications and other venues, his commitment to ensuring the health of his community is not often discussed.

 

Hershey’s first health facility opened in 1918 in response to a devastating influenza epidemic. As need grew,  a health clinic opened in 1921 and Hershey’s first hospital was established in 1924.  Located in the Gingrich house on East Chocolate Avenue (just across the street from the chocolate factory), it offered 10 beds.  Nurses’ quarters were provided in Fanny Hershey’s old house next door.

 

Aerial view:  Chocolate Avenue; Fanny Hershey home (nurses' quarters) and first Hershey Hospital visible in lower right.

Aerial view: Chocolate Avenue; Fanny Hershey home (nurses’ quarters) and first Hershey Hospital visible in lower right.

 

When the Community Building was completed in 1932, the hospital moved to the building’s 5th floor.  The ambulance entrance was located on Caracas Avenue.  This hospital held 20 beds. Nurses’ quarters were located on the 6th floor.  At the same time, a separate infirmary was built on the campus of Hershey Industrial School (now Milton Hershey School).  This clinic was created to provide healthcare for the school boys.

 

In 1941 Hershey Hospital merged with the Hershey Industrial School Infirmary.  It was located on Rt. 322.

In 1941 Hershey Hospital merged with the Hershey Industrial School Infirmary. It was located on Rt. 322.

 

However, as it turned out, the new infirmary was under-utilized.  The students’ health was generally good.  So, on March 15, 1941 the Hershey Hospital and the Hershey Industrial School Infirmary were consolidated and  Hershey’s hospital moved to the red brick facility on Governor Road.  This location offered 50-70 beds, an operating room and dental and orthodontic departments.

 

Hershey Hospital, operating room. ca.1934

Hershey Hospital, operating room. ca.1934

 

At the new Hershey Hospital, patients could be hospitalized for uncomplicated childbirth, minor surgery, and important but not life threatening illnesses.  Hershey relied on specialists and surgeons to provide services not offered by the community’s general practice doctors.  Complicated medical conditions required patients to be transferred to other area hospitals in Harrisburg, Lebanon and Lancaster.  Hershey Hospital was an important part of the community’s health services for many years.

 

Hershey Hospital bed with breathing blanket covering.  ca.1934

Hershey Hospital bed with breathing blanket covering. ca.1934

 

In 1963, plans to build a teaching hospital and medical school in Derry Township were announced.  On October 14, 1970, Hershey Hospital closed and its patients were transferred to the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.  While many in the community mourned the closing of the community hospital, the Hershey Med Center brought a whole new level of sophisticated and cutting edge medical care to the region.

 

Want to know more? Check out the Archives’ oral history collection for more stories about medical practice and the role Hershey Hospital played in the community.