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Archive for the ‘Community’ Category

Hershey Area Art Association: A Splash of Color in Hershey

Hershey Area Art Association members at Hershey Gardens’ Gardenfest, 4/27/2014

Hershey Area Art Association members at Hershey Gardens’ Gardenfest, 4/27/2014

 

In order to document and preserve the history of the community, Hershey Community Archives actively collects the records of local businesses and organizations. The Archives recently received the records of the Hershey Area Art Association [HAAA].

 

The records document the history and activities of the HAAA and illustrate how this organization helps to fulfill its goal of providing cultural and artistic opportunities in Hershey and the surrounding area.

 

The Hershey Area Art Association  held its first meeting on March 20, 1995. The founding members wanted a forum where artists in the community could come together and exchange ideas, enjoy fellowship, and promote fine arts and fine arts education. The association wanted to splash color onto the Hershey community by creating and displaying original pieces of art. Wanting to nurture and support aspiring artists, the association established a scholarship that is offered each year to a local high school graduate to financially assist a young artist heading to college.

 

Hershey Area Art Association scholarship recipient for 2010, Zachary Artz.

Hershey Area Art Association scholarship recipient for 2010, Zachary Artz.

 

The association holds various events, programs, classes, and exhibitions to raise awareness of art within the community. In general, events display original pieces of art created by members. A variety of classes are offered and are designed to teach skills while promoting the enjoyment of creating works of art.

 

Hershey Area Art Association members at Arts in the Park in Chocolatetown Square, 1996

Hershey Area Art Association members at Arts in the Park in Chocolatetown Square, 1996

 

In many ways, the Hershey Area Art Association continues the vision of Milton S. Hershey. In developing his model community, Mr. Hershey provided a variety of cultural and artistic venues, giving residents a chance to experience  cultural events usually only available in larger cities. He established the Hershey Convention Hall and later Hershey Theatre to bring nationally recognized performing artists to the community. Later on, Hershey Educational and Cultural Center was established to provide a wide variety of art-related educational classes.

 

The Hershey Area Art Association is truly a community treasure and is one that will continue to prosper and grow for years to come.

Hershey Improvement Company: Build or Buy a Home in Hershey

Beginning construction for the Hershey Chocolate factory, 1903

Beginning construction for the Hershey Chocolate factory, 1903

 

In 1903, when Milton Hershey broke ground for the Hershey Chocolate factory in Derry Township his plans far exceeded the construction of one building. Mr. Hershey envisioned the development of a new community; a community that featured modern facilities and residences with the objective of being an “ideal twentieth century town.”[i]

 

Hershey Improvement Company, an unincorporated organization that operated under the auspices of the Hershey Chocolate Company, was responsible for building the infrastructure for Mr. Hershey’s model industrial town. The Improvement Company laid out roads, sidewalks, and all of the utilities including: water, sewer, electric, and gas. The company oversaw the construction of public buildings and homes as well as all real estate transactions.

 

Surveyors with Herr’s Engineers. ca.1910-1912

Surveyors with Herr’s Engineers. ca.1910-1912

 

Potential residents had the choice of purchasing a lot from the Improvement Company and building their own home or purchasing a home constructed by the company. Between 1911 and 1915, the company constructed 150 homes. The benefits and convenience of indoor plumbing and electricity were advertised to homeowners however an emphasis was placed on the community’s amenities.

 

“It is the town of health; it is a paradise for children. Its great public school with everything free is a wonderful asset. It has free libraries, playgrounds, gymnasiums, clubs and all the merits of a place many times its size. These give value that mean dollars and cents to the home investment. The man who buys or builds a home not only gets the full value of that property but the additional value of the town improvement and equipment.” Hershey Press, Advertisement, 11/5/1914.

 

Areba Avenue looking east from Cocoa Avenue. 1912-1915

Areba Avenue looking east from Cocoa Avenue. 1912-1915

 

The company’s investment in the community’s infrastructure was the homeowner’s advantage. This idea exemplified the progressive ideal of capitalism and wealth being used to raise the standard of living for all.

 

The economic value of home-ownership, to the individual, was also emphasized in the Improvement Company’s real estate advertisements. “Property owners in Hershey are enabled to sell their property, if they so desire, making quick sales, and selling at a considerable price over their original investment….We can cite you several instances of property holders in Hershey that have sold their properties recently and pocketed a nice profit.” In this respect, Hershey’s model industrial community was unlike those that preceded it.

 

Hershey Press advertisement promoting the benefits of homeownership. 11/02/1911]

Hershey Press; advertisement promoting the benefits of home-ownership. 11/02/1911

 

For comparison, consider another celebrated company town, Pullman, Illinois.

 

In 1881, the first residents moved into Pullman, Illinois, a community just outside of Chicago founded by railroad car manufacturer George M. Pullman. Pullman was considered to be an ideal town that offered many of the amenities that would later be available in Hershey, Pennsylvania. An important difference between the two communities was home ownership.

 

In Pullman, residents were unable to buy their homes, they could only rent. Following the economic depression of 1893, the Pullman Company laid off workers and reduced wages but refused to lower rents. Workers went on strike and the community became associated with industrial strife, far short of the ideal. By 1900, the municipal functions of the community had been assumed by the city of Chicago.[i]

 

It is likely Milton Hershey was aware of the downfall of Pullman and planned and organized his businesses and community with these lessons in mind. He planned for a model industrial community that would remain an ideal.  “Hershey’s future is clearly established….Hershey is the model industrial town that is developing into the model home town, and in the course of another decade it will attract thousands of people.”[iii]

 

Hershey Press advertisement. 11/09/1911

Hershey Press; Hershey Improvement Company advertisement. 11/09/1911

 

Hershey Improvement Company continued to oversee the development and expansion of the Hershey community until Hershey Chocolate Company was reorganized in 1927. After the reorganization, responsibility for the management and development of the community’s infrastructure was placed under the newly created Hershey Estates.

 

[i]“Big Building Boom in the Chocolate Town.” Hershey Press, 31 August 1911.

[ii] Green, Hardy. The Company Town: The Industrial Edens and Satanic Mills That Shaped the American Economy.  Basic Books: New York, 2010.

[iii] “Advertisement.” Hershey Press, 5 November 1914.

 

Cultivated for Pleasure: History of Hershey Conservatories

 

Entrace to Hershey Park, ca1920-1930

Entrace to Hershey Park, ca1920-1930

 

Landscaping and beautification of grounds and property was always a priority for Milton and Catherine Hershey. The community of Hershey was noted for its extensive garden beds, as well as the lush lawns and trees that were planted throughout Hershey. Catherine Hershey took particular responsibility for the gardens surrounding their home, High Point, personally supervising the placement and planting of the flower beds.

 

To protect the tropical plants that enhanced Hershey’s landscaping and offer residents and visitors a respite from the cold winter months, Milton Hershey directed that greenhouses or conservatories be built in the community.

 

Hershey conservatories were used year round.  In the winter, they housed the many tropical plants and trees that beautified Hershey Park during the warm weather months, as well as the zoo’s birds and reptiles that could not tolerate Pennsylvania’s cold winter months. Visitors enjoyed visiting the conservatories to see the plants and wildlife. The conservatories were also used to propagate seedlings and cuttings that were planted in Hershey’s extensive garden beds each spring.

 

HIGH POINT CONSERVATORY

 

High Point mansion conservatory, ca1909-1918

High Point mansion conservatory, ca1909-1918

 

Hershey’s first conservatory was built in 1909, as an accompaniment to Milton and Catherine’s home, High Point.  Visitors and residents were welcome to tour the conservatory as well as the grounds.  The conservatory was removed circa 1928, when the grounds were redeveloped as a golf course.

 

HERSHEY PARK CONSERVATORY (1910)

 

Hershey Park's first conservatory was built close to the park main entrance. ca1915

Hershey Park’s first conservatory was built close to the park main entrance. ca1915

 

 

The next conservatory was built soon after the first was completed. Opening in 1910, the first Hershey Park conservatory was located near what was then the main entrance to the Park in the vicinity of what is today ZooAmerica’s Southern Swamps exhibit.

 

 

During the winter months,  conservatories were used to propagate seedlings for the ourdoor flower beds. ca1910

During the winter months, conservatories were used to propagate seedlings for the ourdoor flower beds. ca1910

 

By 1915, the Zoo’s bear enclosure adjoined the building. The conservatory was removed around 1924 in anticipation of the Hershey Estates Greenhouse.

 

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HERSHEY PARK CONSERVATORY (1914)

 

In 1914, a second Hershey Park conservatory was built in the middle of the quickly expanding Zoo. Shortly after it opened a portion of the building was used by the Zoo for their primate enclosure.

 

Hershey Park conservatory was renovated as an enclosure for the zoo's birds in the 1930s. ca1934

Hershey Park conservatory was renovated as an enclosure for the zoo’s birds in the 1930s. 1934

 

The building is now home to ZooAmerica’s Great Southwest exhibit.

 

Hershey Estates Greenhouse, ca1935-1940

Hershey Estates Greenhouse, ca1935-1940

 

 

HERSHEY ESTATES GREENHOUSE (1930)

 

Hershey’s last public conservatory and greenhouse was built in 1930. The Hershey Estates Greenhouse was constructed on the north side of the railroad underpass on Mansion Road.

 

Hershey Estates Greenhouse, 1931

Hershey Estates Greenhouse, 1931

 

Removed in 1961, portions of the structure were reclaimed in 1998 and used in the construction of The Butterfly House at Hershey Gardens.

 

MILTON HERSHEY SCHOOL (Hershey Industrial School) GREENHOUSE (1919)

 

Hershey Industrial School (Milton Hershey School) boys spell out “H E R S H E Y” in front of the school greenhouse. 1923

 

Hershey Industrial School (now Milton Hershey School) also built a greenhouse for the use of its students in 1919. The greenhouse was located adjacent to the Homestead, Milton Hershey’s birthplace. Hershey Industrial School students used the greenhouse as part of the horticultural curriculum. Students cultivated plants for retail sale. In 1961, the greenhouse was relocated to the School’s farm Rosemont, where it remained in use until 1992.

HersheyArchives@30-27 Hershey’s Kiss Streetlights

Hershey’s unique Kiss shaped streetlights can be found all along Chocolate Avenue. ca1970-1973

Hershey’s unique Kiss shaped streetlights can be found all along Chocolate Avenue. ca1970-1973

 

Each year millions of people visit Hershey, drawn by Hershey’s many attractions, including its streetlights.  Seriously!

 

Hershey’s streetlights are unique. The lights along Chocolate Avenue, Hershey’s main street, are shaped like wrapped and unwrapped Hershey’s Kisses Chocolates. They’ve been a part of the community’s landscape since 1963, when Hershey Chocolate Corporation president, Samuel Hinkle, suggested that the town improve its downtown lighting with a unique style of streetlights.

 

Hershey News, 12/26/1963

Hershey News, 12/26/1963

 

Sam Hinkle realized that Hershey’s street lighting was not adequate. During his travels he took note of how other towns were lit and he directed the chocolate corporation’s electrical engineer, Don Chubb, to study the problem and make some recommendations. Sam Hinkle added an additional condition to the project: he wanted the streetlights to be uniquely “Hershey.”

 

It was an unusual project and Don Chubb had vivid memories that he related in his 1999 oral history interview. Chubb recalled a meeting that Hinkle called to discuss new lighting for the town:

 

Mr. Hinkle made the statement that he wanted his town relighted . . . I said, “Well, the only way you can have street lighting like that is to get some manufacturers to come up with some prototype fixtures.”

 

[Hinkle asked] “How do we do that?” 

 

Well, the three major manufacturers were Westinghouse, General Electric, and Line Material.  So we talked to all three of them and asked if they would make up a prototype fixture, and in the process, I told each of them that the only thing that lends itself at all toward a streetlight is the chocolate Kiss, the Hershey Kiss, mainly because of the shape and it’s like a globe overtop of an incandescent bulb.

 

The three manufacturers each submitted a prototype lighting fixture and Chubb had them set up in a field near the Hershey Stadium. The light selected was designed by Line Material. As Chubb recalled:

 

The one from Line Material is basically the one that we have today.  They took the whole idea of a chocolate, or a wrapped Kiss, and made molds for it, made forms to spin them, and made them out of aluminum. Everyone, as soon as they saw it, [said] “Hey, that’s what we want.” 

 

Sam Hinkle was very pleased, except he said, “Can’t you take that [Kiss plume] and have it rotate like a weathervane?”  “Sure, probably no problem.”  Contacted them [Line Material], they said, “Oh yeah.” 

 

 

Once the final designs were approved, Chubb and his team developed a lighting plan for all of Chocolate Avenue and a portion of Park Avenue.

 

The new Kiss-shaped streetlights were officially lit and dedicated on December 23, 1963.

The new Kiss-shaped streetlights were officially lit and dedicated on December 23, 1963.

 

The lights were officially lit and dedicated in a brief ceremony on December 23, 1963. Sam Hinkle was so closely associated with the project that the lights were soon christened “Hinkle’s Twinkles.”

 

Today there are 107 streetlights (55 wrapped, 52 unwrapped) on Chocolate Avenue, and eight Kiss streetlights on Park Avenue between Chocolate Avenue and the railroad bridge. The Hershey Company has also installed them at each of their manufacturing plants.

 

#HersheyArchives@30

HersheyArchives@30-23 – Hershey Figure Skating Club

Milton Hershey’s letter to the Hershey Figure Skating Club thanking them for the honor of being made a member of the club. 1/22/1936

Milton Hershey’s letter to the Hershey Figure Skating Club thanking them for the honor of being made a member of the club. 1/22/1936

 

The Archives’ collections are a rich resource for understanding not just Milton Hershey and his legacy but also for the growth and development of the Hershey community. The Archives actively collections the records of local businesses and organizations to preserve the history of the community and its residents.

 

Milton Hershey took an active interest in everything that happened in his town. As  noted in last week’s blog post, when community business leaders established the Hershey Rotary Club, Mr. Hershey was made an honorary member.  Many other community groups, wishing to recognize Milton Hershey’s generosity and vision for his community, also recognized him as an honorary member.

 

Hershey Figure Skating Club members pause for a photograph in the Ice Palace. ca1934-1936

Hershey Figure Skating Club members pause for a photograph in the Ice Palace. ca1934-1936

 

Hershey’s Ice Palace opened in 1931. Ice skating and hockey quickly became very popular. By 1932, Hershey was sponsoring its own ice hockey team. Artificial ice rinks were unusual in central Pennsylvania and soon figure skaters began coming to Hershey from Lancaster, Harrisburg and Reading.

 

The idea for an established club grew out of the group’s desire to be able to rent the rink for sessions devoted to figure skating.  In November 1934, a small group of figure skaters held an organizational meeting for the Hershey Figure Skating Club . Milton Hershey was very supportive of the Hershey Figure Skating Club, providing facilities and the management support of Hershey Estates.

 

Hershey Figure Skating Club minutes, 11/14/1935

Hershey Figure Skating Club minutes, 11/14/1935

 

The following year the club formally recognized Milton Hershey’s support, making him an honorary member of the club.

 

#HersheyArchives@30

HersheyArchives@30:22 Service Above Self – Hershey Rotary Club

Charter for the Rotary Club of Hershey. 6/10/1943

Charter for the Rotary Club of Hershey. 6/10/1943

 

Community organizations are the lifeblood of a town. They provide residents with opportunities to meet and socialize with each other while working to enhance community life.  These groups enrich their communities while giving their members a sense of purpose and contributing to the community. The Archives actively collects the records of Hershey’s community businesses and organizations and is fortunate to hold the records of several community groups.

 

Y.M.C.A.’s Busy Men’s Doggy Bow-Wow meets for a celebratory meal in the Hershey Café. 3/1913

Y.M.C.A.’s Busy Men’s Doggy Bow-Wow meets for a celebratory meal in the Hershey Café. 3/1913

 

Community groups began to form shortly after the Hershey Chocolate factory began operations in 1905.  The organizations varied from the critically needed Hershey Volunteer Fire Company to the purely social Men’s Doggy Bow-Wow Club (?!).

 

Hershey Volunteer Fire Company was organized in 1905.

Hershey Volunteer Fire Company was organized in 1905.

 

Hershey’s community groups enhanced Hershey’s social life by creating community gatherings such as the annual Christmas tree lighting, presenting annual concerts, and organizing food and clothing collections for the less fortunate.

 

The Hershey Civic Club sponsored a variety of youth sports teams, including a junior ice hockey team.  This 1941 team included (left-right) 1st row: Irv Gonz, Bob Evans, Jack Bernard, Dick Brunner. 2nd row: Endo Corsetti, Sterling Sechrist, Bud Prowell, Herb Erdman, Dick Stover.

The Hershey Civic Club sponsored a variety of youth sports teams, including a junior ice hockey team. This 1941 team included (left-right) 1st row: Irv Gonz, Bob Evans, Jack Bernard, Dick Brunner. 2nd row: Endo Corsetti, Sterling Sechrist, Bud Prowell, Herb Erdman, Dick Stover.

 

Civic clubs in particular play an important role, working to improve neighborhoods through volunteer work by its members. During the 1930s, Hershey had a local Civic Club, which sponsored community clean-up days, organized various community celebrations, and raised money to help support other local organizations.

 

Since there was already a civic club in Hershey, initially there was little interest in starting a Rotary club, despite urging from Rotary clubs in Elizabethtown and Harrisburg. All that changed in 1943 when D. Paul Witmer, the head of Hershey Industrial School [Milton Hershey School], attended a Rotary meeting in Elizabethtown.  “Pop” Britton, manager of the Hershey Community Center and member of the Palmyra Rotary, also encouraged John B. Sollenberger, president of Hershey Estates, to consider starting a new Rotary club.  With interest from two of Hershey’s business leaders, a new Rotary club was soon in the works.  It was decided that the members of Hershey’s Civic Club would be invited to join the new Rotary club.

 

One of the Hershey Rotary Club’s first activities was to sponsor a local business expo. Pictured here are the club’s organizers. left-right: Carl Britton, Harry.N. Herr, T. Egan, Albert Schmidt, John.B. Sollenberger, Edwin Wagner, Harry Erdman, D. Paul Witmer, W. Allen Hammond.

One of the Hershey Rotary Club’s first activities was to sponsor a local business expo. Pictured here are the club’s organizers. left-right: Carl Britton, Harry.N. Herr, T. Egan, Albert Schmidt, John.B. Sollenberger, Edwin Wagner, Harry Erdman, D. Paul Witmer, W. Allen Hammond.

 

The first meeting was held June 2, 1943 in the Hershey Community Building dining room.  John B. Sollenberger was elected president, and the charter was presented to the club on June 14, 1943.

 

Leadership:

President                            John B. Sollenberger

Vice President                   Carl T. Britton

Secretary                             W. Allen Hammond

Treasurer                            D. Paul Witmer

Sargent at Arms                 Raymond H. Koch

Directors:                            Harry Erdman, Harry N. Herr, Edwin S. Wagner

 

There were 29 charter members and Milton S. Hershey was made an honorary member.  The first regular meeting was on June 21, 1943 also in the dining room of the Community Building.

 

In the beginning, the Hershey Rotary Club partnered with the Hershey Civic Club on a number of projects. The first joint project was the Cocoa Bean game, a football game pitting Milton Hershey School against Hershey’s public high school.  The competition was first held in 1943 to raise money for Memorial Field, Hershey’s local outdoor recreation center.

 

Children have always been a focus of Rotary support and beginning in 1958, the Hershey Rotary Club began an enduring program of sponsoring international student exchanges.

 

Founders Day drew the entire community together to celebrate the life and legacy of Milton Hershey. 9/12/1953

Founders Day drew the entire community together to celebrate the life and legacy of Milton Hershey. 9/12/1953

 

Hershey Rotary Club often took the lead in organizing community celebrations. In 1950, the club organized Founders Day, a day to remember Mr.Hershey.

 

The club’s biggest fund raiser, its annual auction, began in 1968. At first the entire proceeds of the auction were donated to the Hershey Volunteer Fire Company. Today, auction proceeds are shared with a wide variety of community and regional non-profit groups.

 

Today Hershey Rotary Club continues to serve the community of Hershey through its commitment to “Service Above Self.”

 

#HersheyArchives@30

HersheyArchives@30-16 Building a year round destination for entertainment: Hershey Theatre

Hershey Theatre, opening weekend program, September 1-4, 1933

Hershey Theatre, opening weekend program, September 1-4, 1933

 

In 1915, Hershey had his architect, C. Emlen Urban, draw up plans for a new community building.

 

Architect's drawing, Hershey Community Building. 1915

Architect’s drawing, Hershey Community Building. 1915

 

The building was to include a dining room, cafeteria, gymnasium, swimming pool, assembly rooms, a dormitory, a hospital, and two theaters: a small theater for local productions and a large, 2000 seat professional theater.  Groundbreaking was scheduled for early 1916 but the arrival of World War I delayed the start of the project.  The architect’s plans were put away and virtually forgotten.

 

Community Building and Theatre construction crew, 5/6/1932

Community Building and Theatre construction crew, 5/6/1932

 

As the 1930s Great Depression overwhelmed the country’s economy, Milton Hershey responded to the economic crisis by initiating a local building program, better known as the Great Building Campaign.  Hershey’s building boom provided employment for over 600 workers who otherwise would have been unemployed and built many of this community’s most impressive structures.

 

Hershey Theatre, Auditorium outer wall elevation. 12/30/1931. Origianl drawing by architect C. Emlen Urban

Hershey Theatre, Auditorium outer wall elevation. 12/30/1931. Origianl drawing by architect C. Emlen Urban

 

The original 1915 plans for the Community Building and Theatre were dusted off and workers broke ground in 1928.  Work was completed in 1933. Hershey dedicated its new Community Center and Theatre, during the town’s thirtieth anniversary celebration held September 1-4, 1933.

 

Hershey Theatre stage, with fire curtain visible. 1934

Hershey Theatre stage, with fire curtain visible. 1934

 

Hershey Theatre was built just about the time that New York City’s Radio City Music Hall was constructed.  That performance hall’s stark art deco’s design stands in sharp contrast with Hershey Theatre’s interior.  Since the Theatre was built from plans developed 18 years earlier, its design more closely resembles the opulence of early twentieth century theaters.

 

Hershey Theatre Grand Lobby, ca1935

Hershey Theatre Grand Lobby, ca1935

 

The grand lobby is a lavish entrance to a romantic, European space. The lobby floors are laid with polished Italian lava rock.  Four different types of marble shape the walls and arches.   Solid brass doors open to the inner foyer, with its intricate blue and gold mosaic ceiling, patterned after St. Mark’s Cathedral in Venice, Italy.

 

In the orchestra, or main level of the auditorium, the theatre’s design theme is fully revealed as the grand style of Venice, Italy. The six-ton fire curtain features a painting of the city of Venice, with its Grand Canal slowly flowing past Doge’s Palace.  The Theatre’s ceiling was specially constructed to create the illusion of being in an outside space.

The Theatre features a four-manual 78 rank Aeolian-Skinner concert organ.  The organ’s more than 4,715 pipes and 25 bells are concealed behind the French doors of the front balconies facing either side of the stage.

 

Hershey Theatre, opening weekend program, September 1-4, 1933

Hershey Theatre, opening weekend program, September 1-4, 1933

 

To showcase the new Theatre, a series of concerts, lectures and performances were scheduled throughout the weekend. The celebration began with a grand organ dedication and recital on Friday, September 1.

 

Hershey Theatre, opening weekend program, inside pages. September 1-4, 1933

Hershey Theatre, opening weekend program, inside pages. September 1-4, 1933

 

The next day, Saturday, was the Community Theatre’s official opening day.  The program, a popular movie with a vaudeville revue was offered three times during the day.  The first movie shown at the theatre was “Pilgrimage” with Henriette Crosman, Norman Foster, and Marion Nixon.

 

The vaudeville show featured nationally popular singers, comediennes, dancers and acrobatics.  The show also featured “The Hersheyettes,” promoted as “a line of Beautiful Girls:” sixteen dancing girls performing precision routines.

 

Sunday, September 3, 1933, the celebration was a bit more serious with then Secretary of Agriculture (later Vice-President of the United States) Henry A. Wallace offering remarks at the official dedication ceremony. The theatre was overflowing, necessitating loudspeakers to carry the message to the crowd outside.  The gala weekend festivities concluded on Labor Day with three more movie/vaudeville performances.

 

To learn more about the history of the Hershey Theatre, visit the Archives website.

 

HersheyArchives@30

 

 

 

HersheyArchives@30-13 “Hire the Forty Men”

Over thirty men carry a single wooden support structure during the construction of the Arena. 1936

Over thirty men carry a single wooden support structure during the construction of the Arena. 1936

 

Milton Hershey launched  his “Great Building Campaign” to bolster the local economy during the Great Depression. Townspeople found work building the structures that would eventually become some of the major tourist attractions in town, (Hershey Community Building and Hershey Theatre, The Hotel Hershey, Hersheypark Arena and Stadium) and the result was a town that offered facilities and features unheard of for a community of its size.

 

The October 1929 stock market crash launched a long economic decline that grew into the worldwide Depression of the 1930s. But the town of Hershey stood in sharp contrast to much of the United States during these years. While most industries struggled to keep from shutting down, throughout the Depression Mr. Hershey’s affordable chocolate products enabled his company to enjoy sustainable sales and profits.

 

There were good business reasons for Mr. Hershey to pursue a construction campaign when he did. Prices for building supplies were at an all-time low, and the labor force was certainly available. It seemed an ideal time to revisit building projects he had delayed for years. The Hershey Community Building was originally conceived in 1915, for example, and putting a hotel up on Pat’s Hill had been planned as early as 1909.

 

Detail view of the Hotel Hershey first floor plan. Note the support column placed in the center of the circular dining room. As the plan indicates, Mr. Hershey ordered its removal. 1932

Detail view of the Hotel Hershey first floor plan. Note the support column placed in the center of the circular dining room. As the plan indicates, Mr. Hershey ordered its removal. 1932

 

But there was another driving force behind the campaign – a more altruistic one. Throughout his life, the community Mr. Hershey built around his factory remained an enduring passion. He cared deeply for “his” town and the people who lived and worked there. When the Depression threatened to bring economic disaster right to his doorstep, Milton Hershey met the challenge with his unique brand of benevolent paternalism.

 

“We have about 600 construction workers in this town,” Mr. Hershey is reported to have said. “If I don’t provide work for them, I’ll have to feed them. And since building materials are now at their lowest cost levels, I’m going to build and give them jobs.”

 

Mr. Hershey kept close tabs on these construction projects. It’s said that when the excavation began atop Pat’s Hill as the first step for building the Hotel, Mr. Hershey watched intently as two huge steam shovels tore apart the earth. His foreman told him, “These machines do the work of 40 men.” And Mr. Hershey simply replied, “Take them off. Hire 40 men.”

 

Group portrait, Hershey Community Buildilng construction crew. 1932

Group portrait, Hershey Community Buildilng construction crew. 1932

 

In addition to the major buildings, Mr. Hershey also initiated smaller projects to provide employment while developing the community, including Hershey Gardens, new rides and attractions for Hersheypark and new facilities for the Zoo were also completed during these years.

 

Mr. Hershey also used the Great Building Campaign as a time to further promote the sports of golf and hockey in town. In 1930, he started the Hershey Country Club and retained golf architect Maurice McCarthy to design what is now known as the West Course. He also opened Parkview Golf Course for the public and a nine-hole course at the Hotel. And he introduced the first golf course in the nation dedicated to junior golfers, now called Spring Creek Golf Course. The Hershey Ice Palace began hosting hockey games in 1931, and in 1936 the Arena opened. It was the first home to the Hershey Bears, now the oldest club in American Hockey League history.

 

The addition of these attractions built on the community’s image as a center for entertainment and relaxation. By the end of the decade, the town of Hershey had emerged as a nationally known tourist destination and was called “Pennsylvania’s Summer Playground.” Today the majority of the projects that began as part of the Great Building Campaign continue to exist and stand as memorials to Mr. Hershey’s vision, generosity and dedication to his town and its residents.

 

Brochure marketing Hershey as "Pennsylvania's Summer Playground." ca1940

Brochure marketing Hershey as “Pennsylvania’s Summer Playground.” ca1940

 

“As far as I know, no man was dropped by reason of the Depression,” Mr. Hershey is reported to have said. “And no salaries were cut.”

 

#HersheyArchives@30

Hershey Archives@30-7 To Build a Town – Step One: houses

Plan 'A' Trinidad Avenue, ca1903

Plan ‘A’ Trinidad Avenue, ca1903

 

Visitors to Hershey today are often impressed by the community’s well-kept homes with tidy green lawns and sidewalks.  Building attractive and comfortable homes for his workers was part of Milton Hershey’s vision for his model industrial town.

 

Cocoa Avenue, ca1920

Cocoa Avenue, ca1920

 

26 E. Areba Avenue, 1912

26 E. Areba Avenue, 1912

 

Most of Hershey’s residential area is located on the south side of Chocolate Avenue.  The layout for these streets and lots can be seen on this 1903 map.

 

However, when Milton Hershey first started building his model town, the first homes were not built there.

 

Aerial view of Derry Church, looking north.  Note location of Derry Presbyterian Church in right hand corner. ca1924

Aerial view of Derry Church, looking north. Note location of Derry Presbyterian Church in right hand corner. ca1924

 

When Milton Hershey broke ground for his chocolate factory in March 1903, he was building in the midst of farm fields and dairy pasture. He planned to build a town from scratch. Fortunately, the area that Milton Hershey selected to build his chocolate factory and model town was next to the small community of Derry Church.  Though small, Derry Church included a tavern, post office, railroad station, a Presbyterian Church, a grain mill, a few small businesses and a number of houses, all located along Derry Road.

 

Haefner House tavern, Derry Church, PA. ca1910

Haefner House tavern, Derry Church, PA. ca1910

 

Some of Hershey’s first construction workers found lodging in Derry Church and the tavern was a popular destination after work.

 

Map of Milton Hershey's land acquisitions, ca1903. Detail showing Trinidad Avenue

Map of Milton Hershey’s land acquisitions, ca1903. Detail showing Trinidad Avenue

 

Since Hershey, the town, was more of an idea than a reality in 1903, it probably made sense to build new housing for his workers adjacent to the existing town of Derry Church.

 

Topographical map of future Trinidad Avenue housing construction, 7/1903

Topographical map of future Trinidad Avenue housing construction, 7/1903

 

In July 1903, a piece of land located north of the future chocolate factory and adjacent to Derry Church was surveyed. Building lots for new worker homes were located on the rolling terrain. Soon ground was broken for 25 new homes.  Like future residential streets that would be constructed on the south side of Chocolate Avenue, this new residential street was named Trinidad Avenue, in  honor of one of the cacao growing regions in the world.

 

Trinidad Avenue, ca1906

Trinidad Avenue, ca1906

 

These houses were completed by the end of 1904, in time for the start-up of the chocolate factory. The Trinidad houses were built using two different floor plans and featured small front yards and porches.  The repetitive designs of the houses displeased Milton Hershey.  When the next houses were constructed, he made sure that the homes featured more architectural variety.

 

Though Milton Hershey owned other land on the north side of the railroad tracks, these were the only houses that would be built in that location. In 1905, house construction shifted to the south side of Chocolate Avenue as workers began building homes on Caracas, Granada, Cocoa and Chocolate Avenues.

HersheyArchives@30-6 Planning a town

By the late 1890s, Milton Hershey was convinced that his future lay in producing chocolate rather than caramels. In 1900, the same year Hershey introduced Hershey’s Milk Chocolate, he sold his Lancaster Caramel Company to competitors for $1 million to devote all his energies to his quickly expanding chocolate business.

 

Derry Township farm land, ca1900

Derry Township farm land, ca1900

 

By 1902 it was obvious that a new, larger factory was needed to produce milk chocolate.  After inspecting possible sites for his new chocolate factory in New York, New Jersey and Maryland, Hershey was soon convinced that the central Pennsylvania countryside would provide everything he needed for a factory: a plentiful water supply, access to rail lines, fresh milk and industrious workers.

 

Since Hershey planned to build his factory in the middle of farmland, not in a town, it was clear from the start that he would have to provide a place for at least some of his workers, as well as his managerial staff, to live.

 

In 1902, working with a real estate broker, Milton Hershey began acquiring land in Derry Township.

 

 

Map of Milton Hershey's land purchases in Derry Township, ca1903-1904

Map of Milton Hershey’s land purchases in Derry Township, ca1903-1904

 

 

By the time Hershey broke ground for his new chocolate factory in 1903, he had acquired over 1200 acres of land in Derry Township and the surrounding area. Clearly, Milton Hershey had bigger plans than simply building a chocolate factory.

 

The Archives is fortunate to hold this hand-drawn map in its collections.  Individual land purchases are identified by a colored outline. It is apparent that Hershey made several different land acquisitions that were pieced together to form a significant land mass.

 

Superimposed on the map’s outline of land purchases is a pen and ink drawing that reveals the outlines of the future town of Hershey, Pennsylvania.

 

Detail of map of Milton Hershey's land purchases and proposed layout of new community. ca1903

Detail of map of Milton Hershey’s land purchases and proposed layout of new community. ca1903

 

 

A closer look reveals the location of the new chocolate factory, residential streets, a car barn for the new trolley system and trolley tracks, a new schoolhouse and the location for a new building on the north side of the Berks & Dauphin Turnpike. Proposed street names have been recorded in pencil:  Chocolate Avenue for the Turnpike, Cocoa Avenue for a main street coming from the south.  Streets for the residential area will carry names of cocoa growing regions: Ceylon, Caracas, Granada, Trinidad.

 

Milton Hershey’s vision and desire to build a model industrial new town, as revealed with this map, are confirmed with articles that were published locally and in business trade journals.

 

On February 19, 1903, the Harrisburg Independent published an article describing Milton Hershey’s plans:

 

“A New Town Near Derry Church to Cost a Million”

“To Be Built By M.S. Hershey the Chocolate Man”

“Is Leaving His Lancaster Plant and Will Build Up

a Modern Laboring Community

for Benefit of 600 Employees”

 

                A new town which will have a population of 1500 will be built midway between Derry Church and Swatara, this county, along the line of the Philadelphia and Reading railway, by M.S. Hershey, the Lancaster chocolate manufacturer, who has large manufacturing interests in various parts of the State.

                He has already begun work there on the erection of a new factory, which will employ 600 men, to supersede the plant at Lancaster, and his purpose in building the new town is to form a modern dwelling community for his employees and their families.  Mr. Hershey has planned an expenditure of $1,000,000 to further his enterprise.

                                                                . . .

               The town will be laid out along plans of modern manufacturing communities which are now springing up, all over this country, patterned after those in England.  It will contain grass plots for pleasure parks in which there will be fountains and stone walks.  The street will be made of crushed stone taken from the quarries and stone crushing machinery has already been installed. 

 

 

The factory would be completed in 1905 and the town would develop along the lines revealed in the map.