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Archive for August, 2014

Time to shop!

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

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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


Hershey Department Store.  ca1926-1935

Hershey Department Store. ca1926-1935


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

Taking to the skies: Hershey Air Park

Hershey Chocolate store window display, ca.1930-1932

Hershey Chocolate store window display, ca.1930-1932

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

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


Hershey Air Park, 6/28/1946

Hershey Air Park, 6/28/1946


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


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


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


Hershey Air Park, 1950

Hershey Air Park, 1950


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


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


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

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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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