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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@30-14 Building a Museum for Hershey: The Danner Collection

Insurance Register detailing purchase of the Danner collection, 1935-1936

Insurance Register detailing purchase of the Danner collection, 1935-1936

 

From 1903 until his death in 1945, Milton Hershey was committed to creating an exemplary model industrial town for his workers and their families. Historically, model industrial towns featured housing and an infrastructure built and maintained by a company and inhabited by the company’s workers. Milton Hershey’s vision for his model town was broader and he created a culturally rich community through the construction and continued funding of an array of educational and cultural institutions.

 

While the establishment and funding of the Hershey Industrial School (now Milton Hershey School), is well-known, Hershey’s support of education actually began with the Derry Township Public School District. Mr. Hershey funded the construction of a consolidated public school in 1904, while the chocolate factory was under construction. Over the next four decades Mr. Hershey financed the construction of additional public school facilities on Granada Avenue and established Hershey Junior College. Hershey residents also benefited from the addition of cultural attractions that were unusual for a rural Pennsylvania community, including: Hershey Zoo, Hershey Theatre, Hershey Gardens, and the Hershey Museum.

 

Hershey's first museum was located on E. Derry Road, not far from Hershey Park. ca1933-1938

Hershey’s first museum was located on E. Derry Road, not far from Hershey Park. ca 1933-1938

 

Hershey’s first museum, the Hershey Indian Museum opened in 1933 in a residential building on Derry Road adjacent to the chocolate factory. It displayed Native American artifacts collected by John G. Worth. Milton Hershey purchased the collection, wanting to establish a museum for his community.

 

The museum’s collection expanded on October 28, 1935, when Milton Hershey purchased the George H. Danner Museum Collection from Monroe M. Pfautz, Danner’s business partner, executor, and family friend to the Hershey family, for $50,000. George H. Danner, a Lancaster County native intrigued by objects from the past, collected artifacts related to everyday aspects of traditional Pennsylvania German life from the late 1800s until his death in 1917.

 

From The Hershey Story's George Danner collection: Gaudy Dutch ceramics, sunflower pattern, 1780-1820

From The Hershey Story’s George Danner collection: Gaudy Dutch ceramics, sunflower pattern, 1780-1820

 

From The Hershey Story's George Danner collection: Pennsylvania German Blanket Chest, 1792

From The Hershey Story’s George Danner collection: Pennsylvania German Blanket Chest, 1792

 

Danner’s collection featured everyday items from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; most notably, 2,000 pieces of English ceramics, glassware and textiles. The collection also contained traditional Pennsylvania German furniture and Danner family heirlooms.

 

Originally, George Danner displayed his collection on the top floor of his general store in Manheim, Pennsylvania.  Danner had hoped that his heirs would establish a proper house museum for his collection using funds from his estate. Unfortunately, this plan never came to fruition. Milton Hershey’s interest in the Danner collection was spurred by the success of the Hershey Indian Museum. Milton Hershey arranged to purchase the collection for the cultural enrichment of the community.

 

2A082-1thb

Sign advertising the Hershey Museum, placed on the side of the remodeled Convention Hall. ca 1953-1970

 

 

 

In 1938, both collections were put on display in the new Hershey Museum after it moved  into the recently renovated Convention Hall.  Hershey’s purchase of the George H. Danner Collection is merely one of many examples of Hershey’s dedication to creating a rich cultural environment for the people of Hershey, Pennsylvania.

 

Pennsylvania German living room exhibit at the Hershey Museum. 1950-1959

Pennsylvania German living room exhibit at the Hershey Museum. 1950-1959

 

The Danner Collection has been a key component of the Hershey Museum’s collection since Milton Hershey purchased it in 1935.  While the Archives holds the insurance ledger, documenting the acquisition of the collection, the artifacts and documentation of this collection continue to be held by The Hershey Story, the Museum on Chocolate Avenue.

#HersheyArchives@30

Strike up the Band!

John Philip Sousa at the podium, Hershey Convention Hall.  July 4, 1925

John Philip Sousa at the podium, Hershey Convention Hall. July 4, 1925

 

 

Summer in Hershey means concerts.  This past weekend the Dave Matthews Band came to Hershey, bringing traffic and tens of 1000s of fans to our community.  Presenting internationally recognized stars, such as Dave Matthews, is nothing new for Hershey.  Our community has been a destination for top performers since the early 1910s. 

 

 

Visitors gather outside Hershey Convention Hall.  1925

Visitors gather outside Hershey Convention Hall. 1925

 

The Convention Hall, constructed in 1915, was a perfect venue for headliners.  The facility seated 6000 people. The addition of such a performance hall, created the perfect place for nationally recognized performers to appear in Hershey. 

 

Hershey Press Sousa 7-2-1925

 

In 1925 John Philip Sousa and his band came to Hershey for the first time, opening its touring season over the Fourth of July weekend (July 4-5).  An internationally acclaimed conductor, he toured and performed to sold-out crowds in the United States and around the world.  Unlike many other popular conductors, Sousa conducted every concert.  The Sousa band did not have any assistant conductors.  His concerts featured many of his own compositions as well as other popular music. 

 

 At that time Sousa was 71 years old and still actively composing music.  During the two days, Sousa conducted 4 concerts.  Over 10,000 people came to hear him perform, with many more people listening outside standing by the Convention Hall’s windows..  The success of the Sousa concerts led to an invitation to return to Hershey the following year.

 

In 1926, Sousa returned to Hershey again starting his touring season in Hershey, performing four concerts over July 4th and 5th.  Attendance was less, with 5,000 guests.  Heavy rains over the two days, with July 5th falling on a Monday, contributed to the smaller crowds.

 

Hershey Convention Hall

Hershey Convention Hall, exterior.  1915

Hershey Convention Hall, exterior. 1915

When the Church of the Brethren chose Hershey as the location for its next annual meeting, the church requested permission to erect a tent on park grounds. Milton Hershey responded with an offer to build a 6,000 seat convention hall for their use. The Convention Hall was completed in less than a year, just in time for the Brethren’s June 1915 meeting. Over 60,000 people from all over the United States attended the convention that year.

Hershey Convention Hall, Church of the Brethren Triennial Convention, 6/1915

Hershey Convention Hall, Church of the Brethren Triennial Convention, 6/1915

The Hershey Convention Hall was originally conceived as a Chautauqua Hall, which would offer a wide array of educational and cultural opportunities.  The size and location of the Convention Hall led to its use not only as a meeting place but also as a performance hall.  Between 1915 and 1930 it hosted nationally recognized performers, including Paul Whiteman and his orchestra, the Sistine Chapel Choir, soprano Marion Talley and Will Rogers. In 1925 the Convention Hall was remodeled, and its acoustics were improved. That year John Philip Sousa and his band performed at the Convention Hall over the Fourth of July weekend celebration. Tickets for his afternoon and evening concerts were 75 cents. There was standing room only for the concerts, and many more people crowded around the building listening to the music.

In 1931 the Convention Hall was remodeled as an Ice Palace for ice skating and hockey. ca. 1931-1936

In 1931 the Convention Hall was remodeled as an Ice Palace for ice skating and hockey. ca. 1931-1936

In 1931 the Convention Hall was again remodeled and a ice rink added to the facility. Each winter the rink was used for public skating, an annual ice carnival and ice hockey games. Hershey’s instant love affair with ice skating and hockey would lead to the construction of the Hershey Sports Arena in 1936.