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Archive for the ‘Hotel Hershey’ Category

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.”



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.”



Seeking the Highest Office: Governor Scranton and the1964 Presidential Race

Governor William Scranton speaks to reporters while attending the GOP Summit at Hotel Hershey, Hershey, PA.  8/12/1964

Governor William Scranton speaks to reporters while attending the GOP Summit at Hotel Hershey, Hershey, PA. 8/12/1964


Few people know that Hershey played a part in the 1964 GOP presidential campaign. Before we get to Hershey, let me give you some background.


The Republican primaries of 1964 featured liberal Nelson Rockefeller of New York and conservative Barry Goldwater of Arizona as the two leading candidates. Shortly before the GOP convention, Rockefeller saw his popularity wane in the wake of negative publicity surrounding his divorce and remarriage.


Concerned about selecting a very conservative presidential candidate, moderate Republicans moved into action as it appeared more and more likely that the conservative Goldwater was headed for a first ballot victory at the GOP Convention. On June 6, Pennsylvania State Senator Hugh Scott started a movement to draft Pennsylvania Governor Scranton to be on the ballot, hoping that Scranton could pull together all the liberal and moderate Republicans to defeat Goldwater.


The following day, Governor Scranton stopped to visit former President Eisenhower while on his way to the National Governors’ Conference in Cleveland, Ohio. Eisenhower encouraged Scranton to officially enter the race. Scranton finally joined the race on June 12, 1964. Rockefeller dropped out on June 15 and endorsed Scranton.


Scranton made a swing throughout the nation to speak with as many delegates as possible. Scranton gradually worked the moderate delegates who preferred Goldwater to Rockefeller and won endorsements in Ohio and Maryland.


Bill Scranton’s efforts were too late.


In 1964 Barry Goldwater decisively won the Republican Presidential nomination on the second ballot. In his acceptance speech, Goldwater set forth the “cause of Republicanism.” His most famous passage was:


Today … the task of preserving and enlarging freedom at home and of safeguarding it from the forces of tyranny abroad is great enough to challenge all our resources and to re-fire all our strength. Anyone who wants to join us in all sincerity, we welcome. Those who do not care for our cause, we don’t expect to enter our ranks in any case. And let our Republicanism, so focused and so dedicated, not be made fuzzy and futile by un-thinking and stupid labels. I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.


Many GOP moderates were offended by Goldwater’s words. His speech was seen as a deliberate insult to their more tempered values. Letters of protest poured into the GOP National Committee, and Goldwater could see that his cold, unconciliatory acceptance speech and his explosive line about extremism had refueled, rather than dampened, fiery convention tempers. He knew that something had to be done about it.


GOP Presidential nominee Barry Goldwater speaks to reporters while attending the GOP Summit held at Hotel Hershey, Hershey, PA.  8/12/1964

GOP Presidential nominee Barry Goldwater speaks to reporters while attending the GOP Summit held at Hotel Hershey, Hershey, PA. 8/12/1964


Then, carrying out a plan conceived even before the convention, Goldwater skillfully handled a remarkable summit conference of GOP leaders in Hershey, PA held at Hotel Hershey on August 12, 1964.



Former President Dwight Eisenhower addresses the room at the GOP Summit, held at Hotel Hershey, Hershey, PA.  l-r: Vice-presidential candidate William Miller, former President Eisenhower, GOP presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, Richard Nixon.  8/12/1964

Former President Dwight Eisenhower addresses the room at the GOP Summit, held at Hotel Hershey, Hershey, PA. l-r: Vice-presidential candidate William Miller, former President Eisenhower, GOP presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, Richard Nixon. 8/12/1964


Moderated by former President Dwight Eisenhower, the GOP summit brought together many of the party’s leaders, including Pennsylvania Governor William Scranton, Richard Nixon and Vice-president GOP candidate William Miller.


The Summit made no significant impact on Mr. Goldwater’s presidential campaign. In the November election, he would win only his own state, Arizona and the five states of the deep south. Lyndon Johnson would sweep the election with 61% of the popular vote and 4/5s of the electoral college votes.

Serving Our Country: Hotel Hershey During World War II

 While many  are familiar with Hershey Chocolate Corporation’s contributions to the war effort manufacturing millions of Ration ‘D’ survival ration bars, Hershey also played an important, though little known, service to our country during the war. During the war years, Hotel Hershey served as an internment camp for the Vichy French diplomatic corps stationed in the United States.  


Germany invaded and defeated France in the spring of 1940.  A large portion of southwestern France was left unoccupied by the conquering army.  A new French government,  sympathetic to the Nazi regime, was established in the town of Vichy. As part of political protocol, the Vichy government sent Gaston Henri Haye to Washington, D.C. to serve as the French ambassador to the United States.


News of the Vichy French ambassador and his staff's arrest appeared in newspapers across the country. Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, 11/?/1942

News of the Vichy French ambassador and his staff's arrest appeared in newspapers across the country. Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, 11/?/1942

By late 1942, the United States had lost patience with the pro Hitler French government.  In September 1942 the State Department discovered that the French Embassy in Washington D.C. had sent a letter to the Vichy Government concerning United States war production.  On November 7 the United States launched its invasion of French North Africa, “Operation Torch.”  On November 11, the Germans, fearing they would be outflanked in the south and not trusting Vichy, occupied the remaining portion of France.  The United States still had relations with Vichy, and now American diplomatic personnel were behind German enemy lines.  The American diplomats were moved an internment camp at Lourdes.


Hotel Hershey and grounds.  ca.1935-1940

Hotel Hershey and grounds. ca.1935-1940


The State Department responded by deciding the Henry Haye and his staff would soon leave the French embassy in Washington.  They began looking for a place to put them.  Newspapers across the country published stories of the arrest of the pro-Nazi ambassador and his staff.  Page 17 of the November 14, 1942 New York Times featured a large aerial photograph of the Hotel Hershey.  “Where French Diplomats Will Be Housed” read the caption.

The NYTimes article continued, “Negotiations are under way here between the Federal Government and the Hershey Estates over the housing of 300 representatives of the Vichy government  at the hotel Hershey.  Discussions have been going on since Wednesday, but no arrangements had been completed,” the paper noted.  The State Department planned to place the Vichy Government staff in custody until arrangements could be made for their repatriation and subsequent exchange for the American diplomats being detained by France.



Joseph Gassler, General Manager of the Hotel Hershey, 1933-1959

Joseph Gassler, General Manager of the Hotel Hershey, 1933-1959



While the New York Times believed that arrangements were still being made, in reality, Joseph Gassler, General Manager for the Hotel, had already sent a letter to Cordell Hull, Secretary of State on November 12, 1942, offering the Hotel’s services.

I have the honor to advise you that Hotel Hershey has placed its facilities at your service…I shall be very happy to have these people as our guests and assure you, my dear Secretary, that we will do our utmost, in every respect, to give the high standard of service which the famous Hotel Hershey knows how to give.

Mr. Gassler’s letter also included details about the specific conditions of the arrangements.  Tariff for adults was set at $7.50/day per person, children (0-12 years old) $4.00 per person, and guards, $4.00 per person.  Incidental expenses incurred were to be billed to the State Department at cost, and gratuities were also to be paid by State Department funding.


The Hotel was chosen to sequester the Vichy French government representatives for several reasons.  Hershey Estates was cooperative, the quality of accommodations was quite high and the possibly most importantly, the Hotel was in a secluded and defensible location.


Want to learn more?  Visit the Archives website to learn more about Hershey’s contributions to the United States war effort.

A Picture Sometimes Needs a Few Words

Often, when we are processing a collection, we come across a photo that raises more questions than answers.  Take this photo as an example:


Dinner party on Hotel Hershey lawn

Dinner party on Hotel Hershey lawn




A close study of the photo does provide some clues.  The background  shows the pergolas and reflecting pools of the Hotel Hershey formal gardens.  So we know that the dinner took place at the Hotel Hershey.  Using a magnifying glass to study the faces of the dinner guests helped me to discover that Milton Hershey was seated at the circular table in the center of the table arrangement.  He is dressed in a white suit with his left arm resting on the back of his chair.  The president of the Hershey Chocolate Corporation, Bill Murrie, is seated on his right.


Fortunately, the Archives is filled with resources and collections that can provide answers and help illuminate sometimes mysterious photos.


Between 1934 and 1951, Hershey published a weekly newsletter, the Hotel Hershey Highlights.  This publication served as a community newspaper, providing information about events throughout the community.  A headline on the front page of the June 13, 1936 issue, introduced a pertinent article:


Civic and Country Clubs Entertain M.S. Hershey in a Setting Unusually Artistic


While there was no photo published with the article, it describes the dinner and table placement, making the photograph understandable.  Here is an excerpt from the article:


    A dinner party for M.S. Hershey, founder of the community that bears his name, took place on the lawn of the Hotel Hershey on the night of June 3.

    The setting was unusually artistic.  With the moon shedding its rays on the countryside and picturesque white pergolas and evergreen shrubbery for a background, tables to seat two hundred guests were arranged like the spokes of a wheel.  At the hub of the wheel sat Mr. Hershey, who came to the site of the present Hershey when it was a cornfield thirty-three years ago.

    The dinner was arranged by members of the Hershey Civic Club and the Hershey Country Club as a token of appreciation.  The keynote was expressed by Richard Von Ezdorf, president of the Civic Club.. . .

The article goes on to describe the speakers and the gifts presented to Milton Hershey. One of the gifts was a leather bound book containing the signatures of all the guests and the inscription:


    As an outward expression of gratitude for your many kindnesses to us, we are in this manner thanking you.  What we feel within ourselves must be expressed individually and in many ways.  We want you to know and feel that your gracious entertainment of us, your constant desire to smooth our paths of work and play, and your sympathy for and patience with us is fully and sincerely appreciated.

    May your reward be greater than any one of us can give you — the satisfaction of a job well done.


Putting the photograph and article together, we suddenly can visualize the event and understand the significance of the photo.


A Palace for Hershey: Hotel Hershey opens

A Palace that outpalaces the palaces of the maharajas of India*

*Lowell Thomas, 1933


The Hotel Hershey, 8/19/1935

The Hotel Hershey, 8/19/1935

   Building a hotel on Pat’s Hill had been a dream of Milton Hershey since 1909.  At first, he and his wife, Kitty, thought they would build a grand structure modeled on The Heliopolis, a Cairo, Egypt  resort.  That dream was never realized and by the time The Hotel Hershey was actually built in 1933, Milton Hershey’s tastes had changed.

Hotel Hershey was modeled on another hotel he and his wife had enjoyed.  Located along the Mediterranean, the inspiration hotel was small, only 30-rooms.  Milton Hershey’s builder/architect, D. Paul Witmer, had his work cut out for him to keep the spirit of the original while enlarging it to 170 rooms.
The winter weather was mild and The Hotel Hershey was completed in about 18 months and opened on May 23, 1933.


Hotel Hershey Circular Dining Room. Site of of the Hotel's dedication celebration.


For the dedication,  several hundred guests were invited to the formal opening on Friday evening, May 26, 1933.  Two hundred were present in the circular dining room, where John Snyder presided as toastmaster. 


Mr. Hershey made one of his rare speeches.  “I am but a simple farmer,” he said, as reported in the Lancaster Sunday News of May 28.  “I like to utilize nature’s beauty for the pleasure of men.  This hotel where you are assembled has been a dream of mine for many years.”


The Honorable C.V. Henry, President Judge of Lebanon County, when called upon to speak, observed, “If this is the way people live on the farm, let’s all go back to farming.”

So Long, Until Tomorrow: Lowell Thomas and Hershey

Lowell Thomas was a man ahead of his time: the first roving newscaster, a film maker through the 1920s, a radio presenter in the 1930s, an adventurer who wrote more than 50 books. 


As a pioneer in radio broadcasting, Lowell Thomas brought the world to the United States’ living rooms with his around the world eyewitness accounts.  Born in 1892, before he began his career in radio he traveled the world, writing and lecturing.  It was during World War I that Thomas gained his celebrity status with his film of T.E. Lawrence, then captain in the British army in Jerusalem.  The film, With Allenby in Palestine and Lawrence in Arabia made Lawrence and Thomas household names.


In 1930 he became a broadcaster on CBS radio.  Two years later he switched to NBC radio but returned to CBS in 1947.  He is particularly well-remembered for his highly detailed radio news reports during World War II often broadcast from a mobile truck located just behind the front lines. 


Lowell held an enduring fascination with the movies.  He was the narrator for Twentieth Century Fox’s Movietone newsreels until 1952.  When television became a popular medium, Thomas hosted a successful series during the 1950s, High Adventure and then again in the 1970s with Lowell Thomas Remembers.


Lowell Thomas broadcasts from the Hotel Hershey Castillian Ballroom. 9/13/1950 (?)

Lowell Thomas enjoyed an long relationship with Hershey.  He first became associated with  Hershey as the narrator for the Hershey travelogue movie, Seeing Wonders, completed in 1933.   His enthusiasm and colorful language were often memorable.  In the film, Thomas declared that the new Hotel Hershey was “a palace that out-palaces the palaces of the Maharajahs of India.”  Thomas would return to Hershey several times over the next couple decades, broadcasting his shows from the Hotel over the NBC and CBS radio networks.