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Currently browsing Milton Hershey

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.

 

4C4017-3thb

 

 

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.

Accession 200608: Snavely Family Papers

While the Archives is best known for managing the archival records of Milton Hershey’s corporations, we also collect and care for the records of  many individuals and local organizations.  The finding aids for these collections are available online on the Archives’ website: www.HersheyArchives.org.

 

These collections contain a wealth of materials documenting many different aspects of Hershey’s past.

 

Milton Hershey, 1887

Milton Hershey, 1887

 

There are very few materials that shed light on Milton Hershey’s early adult years. Milton Hershey spent his early adult years struggling to make a living. While his life and accomplishments are well documented once he achieved business success, little remains to tell the story of those early years.

 

We are very fortunate that the Snavely Family papers are part of the Archives’ collection.  This collection includes several letters from Milton Hershey to his Uncle Abraham Snavely, written between 1880 and 1882.

 

Sometimes personal letters paint a different picture than the one presented in published sources.

 

In 1894, Lancaster County (PA) published the Portrait and Biographical Record of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Containing Biographical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens. . .Together with Biographies and Portraits of All the Presidents of the United States.

 

I’m not certain who was responsible for researching and writing the brief biography of Milton Hershey. The entry begins with a brief genealogy, since both of his parents were born and raised in Lancaster County. The entry then continues:

 

 In 1876 our subject went to Philadelphia, where he engaged in the manufacture of confectionery, and there continued six years, after which he traveled in different states in the Union, and finally engaged in business in New York as a caramel manufacturer. He deemed it wise to remove his plant to Lancaster, where he has increased his business and employs a large number of men.

 

If this was the only documentation that existed for Milton Hershey’s early business years, we might have a very different understanding of his early life.

 

Business card; 1879-5/1881

Business card; 1879-5/1881

Business card; 1879-5/1881

Business card; 1879-5/1881

]

 

Fortunately for the historian, the Snavely Family Papers provides a slightly different view of those early years. As the finding aid notes, the collection is:

 

Largely comprised of correspondence and land records. The correspondence contains several hand written letters from Milton S. Hershey to his uncle, Abraham B. Snavely, requesting financial assistance.

 

The letters were written between 1880 and 1882, during the time that Milton Hershey operated a candy shop in Philadelphia. The letters reveal that Milton Hershey’s business was struggling at that time, and cash flow was not sufficient to support the business. Hershey turned to his Snavely relatives for financial loans, unfortunately, without much success. You can read more about these struggles here.

 

Interested in learning more? Visit the Archives and review all of the letters in the collection to gain a better understanding of Milton Hershey’s early business struggles.

Creating a Legacy: Milton S. Hershey’s trust fund for Derry Township public schools

Mourners paid their respects at Milton Hershey's gravesite, Hershey Cemetery. 10/16/1945

Mourners paid their respects at Milton Hershey’s gravesite, Hershey Cemetery. 10/16/1945

 

Milton Hershey passed away on October 13, 1945 in Hershey Hospital. While he had placed the bulk of his fortune into a trust for the Milton Hershey School in 1918, his continued financial success during the rest of his life created an estate valued at almost $900,000. Mr. Hershey’s will directed that his estate be used to create another trust fund.  This one would benefit Derry Township’s public schools.

 

Rarely sentimental, Milton Hershey’s will will directed that all his personal belongings be sold at auction, with the proceeds to be added to his estate. To comply with his wishes, an auction was held at the Community Building on Monday and Tuesday, December 17-18, 1945.

 

Flyer: M.S. Hershey Estate Auction, December 17 & 18, 1945

Flyer: M.S. Hershey Estate Auction, December 17 & 18, 1945

Flyer: M.S. Hershey Estate Auction, December 17 & 18, 1945, reverse side

Flyer: M.S. Hershey Estate Auction, December 17 & 18, 1945, reverse side

 

Many protested the sale, wanting to keep his personal belongings intact. They argued that his possessions, which included furniture, rugs, linens, draperies, framed photographs, books, paintings, multiple sets of flatware and dinnerware, and his personal jewelry, belonged in the Hershey Museum. Apparently his executors, William F.R. Murrie, Ezra Hershey, and William H. Earnest, agreed. While the bulk of his personal belongings were sold at auction, the furniture that had filled Milton Hershey’s second floor apartment at the Hershey Country Club (High Point) was removed from the sale and Hershey Estates purchased these items. For many years the furniture was exhibited at the Hershey Museum as a memorial to Milton Hershey.

 

Some of the items from Milton S. Hershey's estate that were sold at auction on December 17-18, 1945.

Some of the items from Milton S. Hershey’s estate that were sold at auction on December 17 & 18, 1945.

 

The Milton S. Hershey Estate auction was held in the Community Building Social Room. There were afternoon and evening sessions with a large attendance of buyers and the simply curious. It appears that there was something for everyone. The auction flyer highlighted large collections of Cauldron, Coalport and Dresden china, rare ivory pieces, cut glass, bronze statuary, silverware, oil paintings, linens and fine furniture. The Auction was handled by L.J. Gilbert and Son, Lebanon, PA auctioneers.

 

The sale raised just over $17,000 helping to create an Testamentary Trust Fund endowment of about $900,000. Since its creation the trust fund has made semi-annual payments to the Derry Township School District with the goal of helping to mitigate public taxes paid in support of Hershey’s public schools.

HersheyArchives@30-26: Why Did Hershey Sell Its Cuban Assets?

List of Hershey Cuban assets acquired by the Cuban Atlantic Sugar Company. Page from Cuban Atlantic Sugar Company Notice of Stockholders meeting, 3/5/1946

List of Hershey Cuban assets acquired by the Cuban Atlantic Sugar Company. Page from Cuban Atlantic Sugar Company Notice of Stockholders meeting, 3/5/1946

 

In 1921, Milton Hershey hired Percy Alexander (P.A.) Staples to manage his Cuban operations. For the next 23 years Staples resided in Cuba. As part of his work, he became very knowledgeable about Cuba: not only its sugar industry, but also with its people, culture, economy, and politics.

 

In 1944, Milton Hershey selected Staples to succeed him as president and chairman of all of the Hershey Entities. Staples relocated to Hershey and quickly settled into his new responsibilities. Though Hershey’s Cuban properties had been consistently profitable, Staples recommended to Mr. Hershey that the Cuban properties should be sold. Staples’ long residence in Cuba provided him with a unique understanding of the country and perhaps created some concerns about its future.

 

P.A. Staples wrote to the Securities and Exchange Commission to explain some of the details of the sale of Hershey’s Cuban assets. 4/6/1946

P.A. Staples wrote to the Securities and Exchange Commission to explain some of the details of the sale of Hershey’s Cuban assets. 4/6/1946

 

Trust001B44F23.1B

Staples to SEC, page 2. 4/6/1946

 

Selling such a sizeable asset required months of due diligence and documenting all aspects of the business. Naturally, there were questions about why Hershey might want to sell a business that had expanded and been profitable for years.

 

Staples outlined his reasons for selling Hershey's Cuban properties. 4/6/1946

Staples outlined his reasons for selling Hershey’s Cuban properties. 4/6/1946

 

Mr. Staples outlined some of the reasons for selling Hershey’s Cuban properties in an April 6, 1946 letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC):

 

“The desire of the Trustee to change its position from that of 100 percent owner of the Hershey Cuban enterprises to that of an owner of only half of the Preferred Stock, and less than 100 percent of the Common Stock, of the Company arises from the fact that, except for the Hershey Cuban enterprises, the only operating properties controlled by the Trustee are located in or near Hershey, Pennsylvania. The individual members of the board of trustees of Hershey Trust Company are men living in and around Hershey, Pennsylvania. Of them the writer (P.A. Staples) is the only one experienced in the operation and supervision of properties in Cuba and the only one having the specialized knowledge required for such purpose.

 

In the light of these circumstances, the late Milton S. Hershey, founder of the Hershey Industrial School, explored the possibilities of a transaction of the general character which is about to be effected and the proposed transaction with the Company is one which was approved in principle by Mr. Hershey before his death last fall.”

 

#HersheyArchives@30

 

 

 

 

 

HersheyArchives@30-25: Hear Mr. Hershey

 

Milton Hershey poses  with a kitchen employee at a Hershey Industrial School picnic held at Hershey Park. 1938

Milton Hershey poses with a kitchen employee at a Hershey Industrial School picnic held at Hershey Park. 1938

 

In the 1920s, American households had a new choice in home entertainment—the radio. The first commercial radio station was established in 1920 and by 1922 over 600 stations were on the air. Radio programs in a variety of formats and genres were broadcast including radio plays, variety shows, news, and interview programs. One such program was “It Can Be Done” hosted by Edgar A. Guest, an English-born American poet who was popular in the first half of the twentieth century.

 

On June 8, 1938, “Milton S. Hershey, ‘The Builder,’” was featured on the radio show, “It Can Be Done.” At the time of the interview, Mr. Hershey was eighty years old. His voice had aged and his speech was slow as he was inexperienced with public speaking and was reading from a script. At the end of the interview, Guest read his poem, “Compensation,” in tribute to Mr. Hershey.

 

The audio below is the only known recording of Mr. Hershey’s voice. Click on the link to listen to Milton Hershey.

 

 

[Transcript of audio]

 

Announcer:      So Milton S. Hershey, the builder of an ideal town continues to build, to build happiness into the hearts of boys, happiness that is the foundation for sturdy, worthy, useful citizenship. The unconquerable, unselfish spirit of Milton S. Hershey has brought fulfillment of his most fantastic dreams. And proves once more, “It can be done.”  We present now, ladies and gentlemen, Milton S. Hershey,” the builder.”

 

Mr. Hershey:   Thank you, Eddie Guest. Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.

 

Mr. Guest:       Mr. Hershey, how many years have you been in the candy business?

 

Mr. Hershey:   Sixty years.

 

Mr. Guest:       Are you still active in the business?

 

Mr. Hershey:   Indeed I am.

 

Mr. Guest:       You know, it seems to me that as long as I can remember I’ve seen your chocolate bar on candy counters.

 

Mr. Hershey:   Yes, the Hershey Bar has been on the market thirty odd years and we were the first to introduce the almond bar.

 

Mr. Guest:       Now, you must use an unbelievable amount of cocoa beans.

 

Mr. Hershey:   We use as much cocoa, raw cocoa beans, as France, Switzerland, Italy and Spain put together.

 

Mr. Guest:       Hmmm.

 

Mr. Guest:       How large is your town Hershey, Pennsylvania?

 

Mr. Hershey:   Hershey, Pennsylvania, has a population of 2500. In that total of 2500 we have 3200 students. The Hershey Township High School is the largest township high school in the United States.

 

Mr. Guest:       How long has the Hershey Industrial School been in operation?

 

Mr. Hershey:   Since 1909.

 

Mr. Guest:       Can you tell me what has happened to some of the boys you’ve trained there?

 

Mr. Hershey:   Well, one is treasurer of the Trust Company, two are in the bank, and there are others in responsible positions. You see, we follow the boys through until we see that they have jobs.

 

Mr. Guest:       Tell me, just how do the opportunities for the boys today compare with those of your day? That is, these boys coming out of your school?

 

Mr. Hershey:   Most of them have better chances for character building and education than ever before. Perhaps they don’t have the chance to make as much money as some individuals have made, but they will lead to happier lives.

 

Mr. Guest:        Milton S. Hershey, Household Finance and I humbly salute you and your courage which carried you through to success and we add our tribute to that of thousands of others for the great work you are doing with boys. Congratulations, Milton S. Hershey.

 

Mr. Guest:       Mr. Hershey, I’d like to think, when life is done,

That I had filled some needed post,

That here and there I’d paid my fare

With something more than idle boast.

That I had taken gifts divine,

The breath of life and manhood fine,

And tried to use them now and then

In service for my fellowman.

 

I’d hate to think when life is through

That I had lived my round of years

A useless time that leaves behind

No record in its vale of tears;

That I had wasted all my days

By treading only selfish ways

And that this world would be the same

If it had never heard my name.

 

I’d like to think when life is done

That here and there, there shall remain

A happier spot which might have not

Existed had I toiled for gain,

That someone’s cheery voice and smile

Shall prove that I had been worthwhile

That I had paid with something fine,

My debt to God for life divine.

 

#HersheyArchives@30

HersheyArchives@30-24: Made in Hershey, So It Must Be Good: H.B. Reese Candy Company

While most confectionery companies regard other candy-making businesses as their competitor, Milton Hershey was different.  Hershey Chocolate limited its definition of a confectionery competitor to those businesses that produced solid chocolate bars. In fact, Hershey Chocolate sold chocolate to a wide range of companies manufacturing enrobed, or chocolate-coated, candy.

 

Harry Burnett “H.B.”Reese, a one-time employee of the Hershey Chocolate factory shipping department, was inspired by Milton Hershey’s success and decided to start his own candy business.

 

In 1921, H.B. Reese began making candies in the basement of his home at 18 E. Areba Avenue in Hershey. Reese produced a wide range of confectionery products. During the company’s first 20 years, the product line featured a variety of candies made and sold by weight. Most of the candies consisted of different centers that were hand-dipped in chocolate. H.B. Reese’s son, Ralph remembered:

 

We used Hershey’s chocolate.  I guess we were a nuisance for a while, buying fifty pounds at a time.  But I remember the little express wagon I used for hauling papers.  [I’d] go down to the [Hershey Chocolate] office and buy fifty pounds of chocolate, haul it back to the house.

 

Day Book; H.B. Reese Candy Company, ingredients purchased. 1929

Day Book; H.B. Reese Candy Company, ingredients purchased. 1929

 

The Archives holds a number of ledgers related to the early years of the H.B. Reese Candy Company. The index page of a 1929 ledger lists a variety of ingredients, including cocoanut (coconut), peanuts, butter, raisins, cherry pieces, dates and chocolate. An early employee, Rena Renshaw recalled in a 1993 oral history interview:

 

I think [until] ’41 they made the assortment, maybe about twenty different kinds, sixteen to twenty different kinds of candy.  And after the war came along, of course, they couldn’t get the coconuts and some of the sugar and butter…[all of]the products that he used in the different kinds of candy. 

 

Time Book; H.B. Reese Candy Company. 1932

Time Book; H.B. Reese Candy Company. 1932

 

For many years the number of employees remained small. Renshaw started working for the H.B. Reese Candy Company on September 1, 1926. She remembered:

 

I got paid twenty cents an hour for the first two weeks, and the next raise we got was twenty-five, about two weeks or so later. 

 

By 1932, she was making 30 cents an hour coating candy centers with chocolate.

 

H.B. Reese Candy Company; pounds of beans picked. July-August 1933.

H.B. Reese Candy Company; pounds of beans picked. July-August 1933

 

H.B. Reese’s path to success was not direct. The 1930s were filled with financial ups and downs. In summer months, when it was too hot to work with chocolate, Reese had his employees can beans and tomatoes that he had grown to generate income. Renshaw recalled her summer work at the factory:

I worked in the canning.  We snipped beans and we’d put labels on cans. That was when it was too warm and we didn’t work in the chocolate.  That they did down in the basement in the summertime.  Well, of course, when the beans came in, they had to can the beans.  We put the labels on the cans by hand. Well, then they canned tomatoes, too. Tomatoes and beans.  That was only in the summertime when it was hot. Didn’t have air-conditioning then, so it was too hot to make candy.

 

By the end of the 1930s, the H.B. Reese Candy Company was emerging as a successful candy company. One of the most popular items in its product line was the peanut butter cup. When sugar rationing was imposed during World War II, H.B. Reese made the decision to eliminate every item in the product line except for the peanut butter cup. The peanut butter filling took less sugar than most of the other Reese candy items and peanuts were readily available from southern states.

 

Customer Sales Brochure, H.B. Reese Candy Company. ca1950

Customer Sales Brochure, H.B. Reese Candy Company. ca1950

 

After the war, Reese continued to build his company based on the success of a single product: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Instead of selling the product by weight, peanut butter cups were packaged for retail sale. And every package carried the slogan: “Made in Chocolate Town, So They Must Be Good.”

 

#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@30-17 Meet you at the movies: Seeing Wonders

 

Specially sized postcards promoting the town of Hershey were included with Hershey's Milk Chocolate bars. ca1915-1920

Specially sized postcards promoting the town of Hershey were included with Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bars. ca1915-1920

 

While he did not make use of print or radio media advertising, Milton Hershey was interested in promoting his model town and its amenities and attractions. He believed that the town and the chocolate business were intertwined and promoting one benefited the other.

 

Milton Hershey was an innovator and was inspired by new ideas and methods.

 

The immense popularity of movies in the 1930s encouraged Milton Hershey to experiment with them to promote his model community, and his chocolate business.

 

Hershey hired Don Malkames, a successful filmmaker from Hazelton, Pennsylvania, to create a film about Hershey.

 

In 1932, “The Gift of Montezuma” was released.  Distributed to public schools and community groups across the United States, this film told the story of Milton Hershey’s model town, the process of making milk chocolate and the beneficiary of Hershey’s success, Hershey Industrial School (today Milton Hershey School).

 

The following year, buoyed by the success of his first film, Milton Hershey decided to make a second film.  Once again directed by Malkames.

 

 

Unlike “Gift of Montezuma,” this short (less than 11 minutes) film, “Seeing Wonders,” was more like a travelogue. The film promoted Hershey as a model town and a destination. Significantly, Lowell Thomas, a nationally known broadcaster, was tapped to narrate the film.

 

“Seeing Wonders” celebrated Hershey’s continued growth and success during a period of national economic collapse. The film was designed to inform, inspire and encourage viewers to visit Milton Hershey’s model town.

 

 

The movie takes viewers on a tour of the model town’s comfortable homes and happy children.  The newly built Hershey Community Building, with its extensive recreational facilities is highlighted.

 

 

Hershey Park’s extensive recreational facilities were also featured including the zoo, amusement rides, entertainment, and recently built swimming pool.

 

 

The movie was filmed just after The Hotel Hershey opened.  In his narration, Lowell Thomas referred to The Hotel Hershey as “a palace, a palace that out-palaces the palaces of the maharajas of India.”

 

 

Throughout the movie, there are continual references to the Hershey Industrial School and the boys that are being cared for there.  As Lowell Thomas notes, the school “is the real meaning of the city that is a dream come true.”

 

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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.

 

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