The Design Company.

You can change this area in header.php

Special Sidebar

You can add any content in this area by go to

Archive for the ‘Hershey Gardens’ 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 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'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.







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


Hershey Estates Greenhouse, 1931

Hershey Estates Greenhouse, 1931


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


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


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


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

HersheyArchives@30-21: Insight into Mr. Hershey: The Wallace Research Collection

Milton Hershey, unlike his contemporary Henry Ford, never wrote a memoir and did not court attention from the public or the press.  Hershey was rarely interviewed and as he preferred to communicate via telephone and telegraph rather than through letters or memorandums he leaves little of a paper-trail.  So without an extensive written record to document Mr. Hershey’s decisions and motivations what evidence do we, as researchers, use to understand him and his decision-making process?


Fortunately, oral history interviews assist archivists and researchers in filling documentary gaps.  Hershey Community Archives has an active oral history program, however for information about Milton Hershey’s personal life and character we often refer to the papers of Paul A.W. Wallace.  Wallace was a professor at Lebanon Valley College who was hired to research and write a biography of Mr. Hershey in the 1950s.  Although Wallace’s manuscript was never published it and his research files are a rich historical archive.


Paul Wallace, ca1954

Paul A. Wallace, ca1954


Wallace, working in the 1950s, was able to interview Mr. Hershey’s contemporaries; his business associates, those he employed, and those who interacted with him in the community.  Oral history interviews with Mr. Hershey’s employees reveal he was interested in big picture ideas and did not concern himself with the details of a project.


Hershey’s horticulturist, Harry Erdman, provided a typical example of Mr. Hershey’s decision-making process in his interview with Wallace.  In 1935 and 1936, J. Horace McFarland, a nationally known leader in the city beautiful movement who was active in the American Rose Society invited Mr. Hershey to meet with him.  McFarland wanted to persuade Mr. Hershey to assist in funding a public rose garden in Washington D.C.  The two men made plans to meet when the Pennsylvania State Federation of Garden Clubs would meet in Hershey in April of 1936.


After McFarland and Milton Hershey’s initial meeting, Mr. Hershey attended the Garden Federation dinner meeting as a guest of McFarland who was the keynote speaker.  McFarland took the opportunity to publicly ask Milton Hershey for financial support of a National Rose Garden.  According to Erdman, he and Mr. Hershey had previously discussed establishing a garden on a piece of land just south of The Hotel Hershey.  Milton Hershey’s reply to McFarland’s request was:


Well, we have been planning a Garden of our own; and, before we give that amount of money for the politicians to play with, we better spend some of it at our own place and see what interest people take in it.


Erdman learned all of this the next day when Milton Hershey called him to a meeting at his apartment in High Point.  In his interview, Erdman related how quickly Mr. Hershey made the decision to establish the Hershey Rose Garden.


[Please note the audio has not been restored.  A transcript of the audio is below.]



The decision was then before 9 o’clock the following morning, after this dinner, I’d stake it out and let him know when I had it staked out and then look it over with him to see if it was too large or wasn’t large enough.  Several days later, I had started to plot with stakes what I thought should be the proper size to start with and asked Mr. Hershey to go up and look it over and he immediately agreed it was alright to go ahead with it. 


The Rose Garden was expanded gradually over the next few years and in early 1941 Milton Hershey was considering how to develop the adjacent land east of the garden.  After 20 minutes of heated onsite consultation between Erdman, engineers, real estate developers, and farmers the land was deemed inappropriate for farming or a housing development.  Mr. Hershey then turned to Harry Erdman and said “All right, Erdman, Go ahead, make a garden out of it. We’ll make an awful lot of other people happy.”


Erdman asked if Mr. Hershey wanted to see a plan or cost estimates.


[Please note the audio has not been restored.  A transcript of the audio is below.]



I asked him at that time if he wanted an estimate of what the cost was going to be – if he was giving me the entire plot?

    ‘Yes,’ he said, ‘it’s no good for farming so take it all.’

    ‘Do you want an estimate of what the cost is going to be?’

    ‘No, go ahead,’ he said, ‘if it gets too big I’ll stop you, but I haven’t stopped you yet have I?’

     I said, ‘no you haven’t.’


This anecdote illustrates how Mr. Hershey developed the goals and relied on others to execute his vision.  He was a leader who relied on capable, talented individuals who operated independently of his influence.  While he oversaw all of the operations and had ultimate authority, he placed a great deal of faith in others to execute the day-to-day operations.  As Erdman explained to Wallace with regard to the initial landscaping of the community:



Question: What about Mr. Hershey’s influence? Did [landscape architect Oglesby] Paul draw up the plans according to Hershey’s specifications or did he just say he wanted everything landscaped, go to it?

Erdman: From my experiences with Mr. Hershey of course this is 25 years later, I doubt very much if Mr. Hershey made any specific plans or gave any specific details. It looked very much as if he told them he wanted nice planting and something of that sort and what he wanted done and it wasn’t specifying any particular names of plants or any particular location. He left that up to the architect to do so.


The oral history interviews in the Paul Wallace Research Collection contain details about Mr. Hershey that would otherwise be unknowable; providing insights into Mr. Hershey’s personality and character.  Mr. Hershey chose not to tell his own story, but fortunately others told stories about him.



Audio clips courtesy of Milton Hershey School Department of School History.

Roses for the Queen

Hershey's 60th anniversary logo appeared on stationery, brochures and other advertising materials.  1963

Hershey’s 60th anniversary logo appeared on stationery, brochures and other advertising materials. 1963


1963 was filled with special events.  The community celebrated its 60th anniversary with new attractions (Highmeadow Campground, now Hersheypark Camping Resort), new streetlights in the shape of Hershey’s Kisses, parades and an Anniversary Rose Queen.


Hershey Anniversary Rose Queen float was featured in the Fireman's Parade.  June 15, 1963

Hershey Anniversary Rose Queen float was featured in the Fireman’s Parade. June 15, 1963


Hershey had started the tradition of selecting a rose queen in 1953, as part of its 50th anniversary celebration.  That year, preliminary contests were held throughout Pennsylvania.  The final competition was held in the Arena.


As part of the 60th anniversary celebration, Hershey again crowned a Rose Queen.


Peggy Evans (center) was crowned Hershey's Rose Queen on May 5, 1963.  Her court included Maryanne Nemocovsky (left)and Suzanne Hershey (right).  5/5/1963

Peggy Evans (center) was crowned Hershey’s Rose Queen on May 5, 1963. Her court included Maryanne Nemocovsky (left)and Suzanne Hershey (right). 5/5/1963


The 1963 competition was a much more local event, with all the candidates selected from students at Hershey Junior College and Hershey High School.  The competition was held at Hershey Rose Garden on May 5.  Peggy Evans, a Hershey Junior College freshman was selected Queen in time to reign over the community’s 60th anniversary events, beginning with the Tulip Garden festival.


Hershey News, front page,  5/5/1963

Hershey News, front page, 5/5/1963


The May 16, 1963 article in the Hershey Press noted that the contestants were judged on personality, charm, poise, grace, pleasantness of voice, good English diction, carriage, congeniality, beauty and ability to create a picture of good taste.  Quite a list of attributes!


First runner up in the contest was Suzanne Hershey, a Hershey High School senior, and second runner up was Maryanne Nemcovsky, a Hershey Junior College sophmore.  The Queen’s court also included Marilyn Buck, Patricia Horst, Sally Kindt, Karen Naylor and Nancy DeAngelis.