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Archive for the ‘Hershey Park’ Category

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.

Hidden collections: Hershey Senior Citizens Writing Project

Did you know that the Hershey Community Archives includes records of local businesses and organizations? In addition to caring for the corporate records of Milton Hershey’s businesses, we also seek to preserve the history of the Hershey community and actively collect the records of organizations such as the Hershey Rotary Club, the Volunteer Fire Company, People Mover, Hershey Figure Skating Club, and receive donations from individuals. While these collections are much smaller than our corporate collections, these private collections hold treasures and help us to understand our community’s history.

 

Hershey’s Mohler Center was originally organized in 1983 as the Senior Citizens’ Center of Derry Township. In 1989, the Center sponsored a reminiscence writing competition. The competition was held again in 1991. The essays were donated to the Archives in 1993.

 

These essays, written by more than 50 individuals, contain wonderful personal stories about growing in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. While many of the contributors grew up in the Hershey area, there are also  stories of childhoods spent elsewhere in the United States, a reminder that we became a much more mobile population following World War II.

 

These essays offer a unique perspective on local and national events, public school, recreation, and home life.

 

Hershey Junior-Senior High School auditorium, Hershey Industrial School (today Milton Hershey School). ca1934

Hershey Junior-Senior High School auditorium, Hershey Industrial School (today Milton Hershey School). ca1934

 

There are several essays centered on memories of World War II. One essayist (a Milton Hershey School graduate) wrote:

 

All the students in grades 6 to 12 gathered in the High School auditorium at noon to hear President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s declaration of war. It was quite a somber time. Principal W. Allen Hammond, normally very talkative, was subdues in his remarks after FDR’s message was finished. He alluded to the fact that, unfortunately, there would be graduates – past and upcoming – who would be killed in action. Mr. Hammond was very prophetic; 37 Homeboys paid the supreme price.

 

Other essays spoke to businesses that no longer exist, providing a window to the past:

 

The Bradley Quarries not only quarried their limestones but crushed and baked some for lime. The kilns were on the hill between Old West Chocolate Avenue and [the] Philadelphia & Reading train tack and the main or first quarry. There were three kilns sheltered from the weather on three sides. At night one could see the bright glare in the darkness.

 

These essays are a great resource for people seeking to understand what life was like in Hershey for those growing up in Hershey. While the Archives holds photographs from these years, the essays help us understand what was happening inside those buildings.

 

Hershey's Y.W.C.A. was located across from the railroad station. 1913

Hershey’s Y.W.C.A. was located across from the railroad station. 1913

 

 

For example, we know that Hershey’s YWCA was located across from the Hershey railroad station (currently the ZooAmerica parking lot). But what went on inside the building? From an essay titled, “Return to Hockersville Road and More,” we learn:

 

In the middle of the [19]20s I was a Girl Reserve, a YWCA girl group similar to the Girl Scouts, that year at the YW. The second and third floors had rooms and a recreational room (or beauty parlor) for unmarried working women. The northeast end of the building was the gym and in back of the gym was the kitchen.

 And in the [19]30s when it was remodeled for an apartment house, my family and I lived in an apartment on the first floor.

 

Even if you didn’t grow up in Hershey, the town’s amenities attracted visitors from all around. If you lived close by, visiting Hershey could be a regular summertime activity. For a boy growing up in Palmyra, visiting Hershey Park was a popular pastime.

 

Entrance to Hershey Park, ca.1920-1930

Entrance to Hershey Park, ca.1920-1930

 

In an essay titled simply, “Childhood Memories,” the author reminisced about the park:

 

Those were the days when, if I earned the money myself, I was permitted 25 cents to spend at Hershey Park. A 5 cent trolley ride to and a 5 cent trolley ride from the park to Palmyra, left me with 15 cents to spend at the park. What gigantic decisions! Shall I squander my 15 cents on amusement rides?  . . . Souvenirs? . . .Popcorn? . . .a Pony Ride? . . .an Eskimo Pie? After I grew slightly wiser – and older – I WALKED from Palmyra to Hershey and back, thereby allowing myself the ENTIRE quarter (a small fortune, then) to spend in the Park.

 

Learn more about this collection, the Hershey Senior Citizens Writing Project, and many more by visiting the Archives’ website. Hershey Community Archives is open to researchers Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and on the first Saturday of every month, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

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@30-15 Hershey Bears: Champions in Every Decade

 

Hershey B’ars game program. 12/13/1933. The program includes an announcement of the formation of the EAHL.

 

Hershey Bears hockey fans were disappointed their Bears did not advance in the Calder Cup tournament this year, but Bears fans know their team is a team of champions.  Milton Hershey recognized hockey’s popularity in early 1931, constructed an ice rink, sponsored a team, and by 1936 built a new sports arena with a seating capacity of approximately 7,200 to house all the fans.

 

Hershey Convention Hall was completed in 1915, but it wasn’t until 1931 that an ice plant and rink were installed allowing the building to be utilized during the winter months.  The Ice Palace, as the building became known when the ice rink was operating, quickly became the playing surface for teams from as far away as Philadelphia.

 

An ice rink was installed in the Hershey Convention Hall during the winter of 1930-1931.

An ice rink was installed in the Hershey Convention Hall during the winter of 1930-1931.

 

During the 1932-1933 season the Tri-State League was formed and featured the Hershey B’ars as one of the league clubs.  The next season the Tri-State League reformed to the Eastern Amateur Hockey League (EAHL).  The Hershey B’ars began to outgrow the Ice Palace and as the team transitioned to the newly completed Hershey Sports Arena in 1936 their name was changed to the less commercial Hershey Bears.

 

Hershey Bears ice hockey team with ice skater Sonja Henie. 1/18/1937

Hershey Bears ice hockey team with ice skater Sonja Henie. 1/18/1937

 

At the conclusion of the 1937-1938 season the Bears won their third straight EAHL title and the United States Amateur Championship.  It was also their last year in the amateurs.  Hershey was granted a franchise in what was then known as the International-American Hockey League, now just known as the American Hockey League (AHL), in June 1938.

 

In the AHL the Hershey Bears continued to play well and reached the playoffs their first eight seasons in the league.  In 1946-1947, the Bear’s ninth season, they took home their first Calder Cup after being down three games in the series and winning the seventh game with a 5-0 shutout against the Pittsburgh Hornets.  Replacement goalie Gordon “Red” Henry, who had played only five regular-season games, allowed only one goal in the three final games of the series.

 

Hershey Bears goalie, Gordon "Red" Henry, ca1946-1955

Hershey Bears goalie, Gordon “Red” Henry, ca1946-1955

 

The Bears have won a championship in every decade since their organization.  After their initial victory in the Calder Cup tournament, the Hershey Bears have gone on to win eleven total to date.   In 2002, their fans transitioned with them from the “Old Barn” to the Giant Center, a 12,500-seat arena.  Mr. Hershey realized hockey was a popular attraction and today Hershey is proud to be the longest consecutive running club in AHL history.

 

Championship Seasons

 

1935-1936:

 

Hershey B’ars win their first Eastern Amateur Hockey League Championship under the leadership of coach Herb Mitchell.

 

1936-1937:

 

Hershey Bears win their second Eastern Amateur Hockey League Championship under the leadership of coach Herb Mitchell.

 

1937-1938:

 

Hershey Bears win their third straight Eastern Amateur Hockey League Championship under the leadership of coach Herb Mitchell.

 

1937-1938:

 

Hershey Bears defeat the Detroit Holzbaugh-Fords to win the United States Amateur Championship.

 

1946-1947:

 

Hershey Bears win their first Calder Cup Championship under the leadership of Coach Don Penniston.

 

1957-1958:

 

Hershey Bears win their second Calder Cup Championship under the leadership of player-coach Frank Mathers.

 

1958-1959:

 

Hershey Bears win their third Calder Cup Championship under the leadership of player-coach Frank Mathers.

 

1968-1969:

 

Hershey Bears win their fourth Calder Cup Championship under the leadership of general manager-coach Frank Mathers.

 

1973-1974:

 

Hershey Bears win their fifth Calder Cup Championship under the leadership of coach Chuck Hamilton.

 

1979-1980:

 

Hershey Bears win their sixth Calder Cup Championship under the leadership of player-coach Doug Gibson.

 

1987-1988:

 

Hershey Bears win their seventh Calder Cup Championship under the leadership of coach John Paddock. This success completes the team’s 50th Anniversary season.

 

1996-1997:

 

Hershey Bears win their eighth Calder Cup Championship under the leadership of coach Bob Hartley.  Mike McHugh is named Most Valuable Player of the Playoffs.

 

2005-2006:

 

Hershey Bears win their ninth Calder Cup Championship under the leadership of coach Bruce Boudreau.  Goalie Frederic Cassivi is named Most Valuable Player of the Playoffs.

 

2008-2009:

 

Hershey Bears win their 10th Calder Cup Championship under the leadership of coach Bob Woods.  Goalie Michal Neuvirth is named Most Valuable Player of the Playoffs.

 

2009-2010:

 

Hershey Bears win their 11th Calder Cup Championship under the leadership of coach Mark French.  Left winger Chris Bourque is named Most Valuable Player of the Playoffs. It is the team’s first Calder Cup victory in the Giant Center.

 

#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

HersheyArchives@30-9: Hershey Zoo: From Angora Goats to Zebus

Pages from Hershey Improvement Company, Transfer Ledger #1. ca1906-1916

Pages from Hershey Improvement Company, Transfer Ledger #1. ca1906-1916

 

Within five years of Hershey Park’s official opening additional attractions were introduced in the Park to supplement and enhance the guest experience.   An amphitheatre, bandstand, dance hall, photograph gallery, and bowling alley were part of the Park’s expansion; and in 1910, Hershey Zoo.

 

Postcard: Herd of Zebus graze in Hershey Zoo.  ca1915

Postcard: Herd of Zebus graze in Hershey Zoo. ca1915

 

Franz and Louise Zinner, who moved to Lebanon, Pennsylvania from Heisenberg, Germany in 1899, persuaded Milton Hershey to open the Zoo as a community and visitor attraction.  Franz had at one time worked with Carl Hagenbeck, a German collector and trainer of exotic animals, who later founded a privately-owned zoo in Hamburg, Germany.  Aware of Franz’s interest in animals, friends of the Zinners who had moved to the western United States, shipped them twelve prairie dogs.  Unable to keep them in their backyard, Franz Zinner contacted Milton Hershey about keeping the prairie dogs as a park attraction.  The two men eventually decided to open a zoo, and Zinner and his family soon moved to Hershey to oversee the facility.

 

Prairie dogs are entertaining but they are a burrowing rodent and spend part of their lives out of view and underground.   Just as Hershey Park expanded to offer a variety of attractions, Hershey Zoo needed to acquire additional animals.

 

Detail of Hershey Improvement Company Transfer Ledger, #1. ca1906-1916

Detail of Hershey Improvement Company Transfer Ledger, #1. ca1906-1916

 

A ledger in the Archives’ collection details the first menagerie acquired for the Zoo.  Wenz & Mackensen was a firm based in Yardley, Pennsylvania that specialized in selling birds but at times dealt in more exotic animals.  Wenz & Mackensen supplied the Zoo with bears, zebus, angora goats, and pheasants.  Zinner supplied prairie dogs and H.E. Cudney, a New Jersey dealer, supplied deer.  By the 4th of July holiday in 1910, the Zoo was a featured attraction.

 

The weekly newspaper, the Hershey Press, promoted the zoo in its advertisement for the Hershey Park's July 4th celebration. 6/24/1910

The weekly newspaper, the Hershey Press, promoted the zoo in its advertisement for the Hershey Park’s July 4th celebration. 6/24/1910

 

The Zoo continued to expand over the years with animals that ranged from the mundane to the exotic.  By 1940, the Zoo covered forty acres and contained individual houses for primates, carnivores, small mammals, antelopes, tropical birds, pheasants, and fish as well as outdoor cages and enclosures.

 

In the era before television, zoos played an important role educating the public about unfamiliar animals and environments.  Hershey Zoo was the first attraction Milton Hershey introduced to the community that exposed residents and visitors to opportunities and experiences outside of those normally available in a rural Pennsylvania community.  Many more would follow.

 

#HersheyArchives@30

HersheyArchives@30-8 DESTINATION: Hershey, PA

Throughout its history, Hershey has been a well-known destination for entertainment.

 

Each summer,crowds of people traveled to Hershey to enjoy its many amenities. 1915

Each summer,crowds of people traveled to Hershey to enjoy its many amenities. 1915

 

After the Hershey Chocolate Factory opened in 1905, the town soon emerged as a popular regional destination. Visitors came to explore the model town and enjoy Hershey Park and its growing number of amenities.

 

In 1914, Hershey’s weekly newspaper, The Hershey Press, announced that a convention hall was going to be erected in Hershey Park. In developing plans for the hall, Milton Hershey was inspired by a well-known assembly hall in Ocean Grove, New Jersey, and sent his builder, James K. Putt, to visit the structure to learn more about it and what might be incorporated in the Hershey building.

 

Convention Hall, longitudinal section.  Architect: C. Emlen Urban. 1/8/1915

Convention Hall, longitudinal section. Architect: C. Emlen Urban. 1/8/1915

 

The new facility was built specifically to attract large events and big crowds to Hershey.  Its first function was the Triennial Convention of the Brethren Church.  Milton Hershey was very interested in hosting this major event and promised the meeting planners that the Convention Hall would be completed in time for their conference scheduled for June 1915.  Construction began in March 1915.

 

Brethren gather to meet in Hershey's Convention Hall. 6/1915

Brethren gather to meet in Hershey’s Convention Hall. 6/1915

Hershey Convention Hall ready for its first meeting.  Note that the ceiling has not yet been plastered.  6/1915

Hershey Convention Hall ready for its first meeting. Note that the ceiling has not yet been plastered. 6/1915

 

The building was dedicated on Memorial Day weekend, May 30, 1915.  Hershey Park opened for the season the following day, Memorial Day (Monday, May 31).  The dedication program included a 40 piece band, the combined church choirs of Hershey, several vocal and instrumental soloists, as well as several speakers.

 

The Convention Hall was not simply a large assembly hall.  Milton Hershey’s plans for the building incorporated many of his goals and vision for his community.  The Hershey Press carried this announcement about the building’s dedication in its June 3, 1915 issue:

 

Dedication

Hershey Convention Hall is dedicated to the service of the people.  May they meet often within its walls and by their proceedings and discussions find wisdom.  May they listen to words that will guide them in the paths of peace and righteousness.  May they hear music that will uplift them.  May they gather the products of their fields and factories and stimulate one another to higher achievements in agriculture, manufacture, commerce and the arts.  May they learn more of the great principles of consolidation and co-operation.  May they be imbued with the spirit of brotherhood, of courtesy and of helpfulness.  May the services on Memorial Day exalting the patriotism of our heroes be a true dedication of this Hall to the welfare of a free people, the cause of liberty, the love of the Flag and the glory of God.

 

The Convention Hall hosted a variety of musical and theatrical performers. ca1915-1920

The Convention Hall hosted a variety of musical and theatrical performers. ca1915-1920

 

True to Milton Hershey’s vision, the 1915 addition of the Convention Hall transformed Hershey, Pennsylvania into a destination capable of hosting large conventions and national performers. The Convention Hall quickly became a popular destination for both nationally celebrated performers and as a meeting venue for large organizations. The building would host a variety of events over its years of service including concerts by New York Metropolitan Opera singers, the Paul Whiteman Orchestra, the Sistine Chapel Choir during its first American tour, and nationally recognized marching bands.

 

#HersheyArchives@30

Riding the Rails: Hershey Park’s Miniature Railway

The miniature train carried passengers over Spring Creek to the ball fields located on the far side of the park. ca.1916.  Note the carrousel building in background.

The miniature train carried passengers over Spring Creek to the ball fields located on the far side of the park. ca.1916. Note the carrousel building in background.

 

When Hershey Park first began operating, it was a community park with picnic tables, playgrounds for children, ball fields, a bandstand, a small concession stand and a pavilion that was used for vaudeville style performances, dances and other events.  Visitors came to enjoy a picnic, stroll the paths along Spring Creek, listen to a band concert and perhaps take in a baseball game.

 

Hershey Park’s first amusement ride, a second-hand merry-go-round was installed in 1908.  The following year, the park continued to expand with a new amphitheatre with seating for 2000. Hershey Park was quickly emerging as a summer destination.

 

The starting point for the miniature railway was located near the intersection of Park Avenue and Park Boulevard, not far from Hershey's railroad station and downtown Hershey. ca.1925-1935

The starting point for the miniature railway was located near the intersection of Park Avenue and Park Boulevard, not far from Hershey’s railroad station and downtown Hershey. ca.1925-1935

 

Milton Hershey purchased a miniature electric railway for the 1910 Park season.  Problems with installation delayed its opening until September 5, 1910.  The 22-inch gauge railway was built by the Lancaster Iron Works, Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  At the time it was built, the little one-of-a-kind railway was considered a technological achievement.

 

The dark line highlights the route of the Miniature Railroad. 1913

The dark line highlights the route of the Miniature Railroad. 1913

 

The ride connected the ends of the Park.  The train line started at the intersection of Park Avenue and Park Boulevard and traveled around the edge of the park ending by Hershey Park’s ballfield.  The train line had no loop so the line had only one train.  The cars could carry up to thirty passengers and the seats had movable backs so that passengers would always travel facing forward.  The fare was five cents for a one way ride.  People enjoyed the ride because it was more than an amusement ride, it was a fun way of traveling to a variety of Park attractions.

 

By 1913 the ride passed by the carrousel, the Hershey Ballroom, and the boating pond.  In later years, passengers could disembark at the entrance to the Hershey Park swimming pool and sunken gardens.

 

In later years, passengers used the railway to reach the Hershey Museum.  ca.1955-1965

In later years, passengers used the railway to reach the Hershey Museum. ca.1955-1965

 

The miniature railway was dismantled after the 1971 season.  That year, Hershey began a multi-year project to modernize the park as a themed amusement park.  In 1971, a fence went up surrounding park rides and attractions but most of the miniature railway continued to operate outside of the fence.  While Hersheypark initially planned to relocate the railway inside the park grounds, those plans were never realized.

 

For more information about the Miniature Railway, read Technology Meets Entertainment:  Remembering the Hershey Park Miniature Railway, by Ron Rhoads, Jr. 2007.  A copy is available in the Archives’ library.

Where do you get your news? Check out the The Hershey Press

On September 3, 1909 Hershey launched its first newspaper, The Hershey Press.

On September 3, 1909 Hershey launched its first newspaper, The Hershey Press.

 

One of the great resources available at the Archives’ website, is its online access to Hershey’s first newspaper, The Hershey Press.

 

Printing The Hershey Press.  1920

Printing The Hershey Press. 1920

 

The first issue of The Hershey Press was published on September 3, 1909.  A weekly publication, The Hershey Press covered local, Hershey news as well as events in neighboring communities.  It is a great resource for local historians and genealogists. Here at the Archives we used it when we need to research everything from the development of the Hershey Chocolate Factory to events such as the Hershey Flower Show, the opening of the Hershey Quick Lunch, and the launch of Hershey’s first roller coaster in 1923.  Its first editorial outlined the paper’s goals:

 

 Hershey Press editorial, 9/3/1909

 

The newspaper was published consistently until its demise in 1926, with only one break.  The break occurred in June 1917, and lasted until January 11, 1918.  There was no notice that the May 31, 1917 issue was going to be the last issue for a while.

 

Hershey Press, 1/11/1918

 

And while the January 11, 1918 issue acknowledged the restart of the paper, there was still no explanation for the stoppage.

 

Likewise, when the paper ceased to be published after the December 30, 1926 issue, again there was no warning that that issue would be the last one published.

 

Check it out for yourself.

Looking Back: Hershey Park Kiddie Week

One of the first Kiddie rides added to Hershey Park was a children’s boat ride.  ca.1926-1935

One of the first Kiddie rides added to Hershey Park was a children’s boat ride. ca.1926-1935

 

 

Rides specially designed for children began to be added to Hershey Park beginning in 1926.  That same year Hershey Park featured its first Kiddie Day.   Children 12 years old and younger could register and receive a ticket that would give them free rides and special treats.

 

In 1929 Hershey Park expanded its Kiddie Day to an entire Kiddie Week that was held each year in late August.  In addition to the expanded time, special entertainment was scheduled at the Bandshell for the week.  Kiddie Week was part of Hershey Park’s summer  events through 1972.

 

Kiddie Week was a highlight for many Hershey children.  Millie Coyle Landis remembered:

Even though the entrance to the park was free, you still had to pay for the rides.  But that didn’t bother us.  We just went and watched other people have fun on the rides.  [Laughter]  But on kiddies’ day, I remember getting in line and waiting for a strip of tickets, and you got ten tickets and you had these free rides, and you could go every day for the whole week.  That was the big thing for us when we were kids.  [Laughter]

The merry-go-round was there.  That was the most favorite one.  I remember airplane rides, The Bug, the Fun House.  There were some [tickets] that nobody even used.  They used to throw them away.  You could find them laying there.  Like at the zoo.  Nobody went to the zoo.  There was a zoo ticket on there, and nobody went to the zoo.  [Laughter]  I don’t remember.  They were mostly the children’s rides.  They weren’t big things, anything that cost like over ten cents.  I think the biggest thing was The Bug and the carousel and the airplane rides.   There was something called the Whip.  The roller coaster was not on the strip.  No, it wasn’t.  No, it was just the cheap rides.  [Laughter] 

 

Baby Parade in progress at the Hershey Sports Arena.  1950

Baby Parade in progress at the Hershey Sports Arena. 1950

 

As Kiddie Week grew in popularity, Hershey Park expanded the program.  In 1936 Hershey introduced its Baby Parade.  The first Baby Parades were held in Ocean City, New Jersey.  The seaside baby parades were held on the boardwalk and served as an ingenious way for proud parents to brag about their children without offending anyone.

 

Hershey’s Baby Parade began at the Miniature Railroad Station as children under five years old either walked or rode on parade throughout the Park and concluded by crossing the Bandshell floor to the music provided by the Hershey Community Theatre Orchestra.

 

Hershey Park General Manager, George Bartels, presents the cutest baby award to Kyle Ann Katzenmoyer.  1956

Hershey Park General Manager, George Bartels, presents the cutest baby award to Kyle Ann Katzenmoyer. 1956

Hershey Park Baby Parade, ca.1950-1960

Hershey Park Baby Parade, ca.1950-1960

Hershey Park Baby Parade, 1955

Hershey Park Baby Parade, 1955

 

There were a variety of prizes including ones for cutest baby, fanciest baby carriage, best fancy costume, most original decorated carriage, fattest baby and best comic costume.  Beginning in 1947 the Baby Parade took place in the Sports Arena.

 

The Baby Parade was eagerly anticipated by many.  Local resident, Helen (Menicheschi) Cappelli, shared some vivid memories of the Baby Parade:

 

They really didn’t have [Baby Parades] when I was a little girl, but my children were involved in it.  My Elaine, she won a prize.  Yes, I remember I had her dressed in a little lavender dress with pink bows in her hair.  Then her little doll cart, we decorated that with the same colors that she was wearing, and she won a prize.  Yes, she did.  I remember that day.  It was a pretty hard day, because it was in the afternoon and it was her nap time.  So, oh, my goodness, she really carried on, you know.  See, they kept on bringing them back up on the bandstand, you know, to walk around, to choose the ones that were supposed to get the prizes, so they called her up and they called her up.  Oh!  This didn’t go over well with her.   So finally, they chose.  But she got the prize.

Baby Parades and Kiddie Week were discontinued after the 1972 season.   Hersheypark was actively being redeveloped as a themed amusement park and many traditional park events were no longer offered.