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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.

Welcoming Spring in Hershey: Easter Flower Shows

Hershey's first conservatory, ca. 1910
Hershey’s first conservatory, ca. 1910
Greenhouse at High Point Mansion, ca. 1909-1918
Greenhouse at High Point Mansion, ca. 1909-1918



One of the highlights of Hershey’s Easter season were the flower displays presented each spring in conjunction with Easter. First presented in Milton Hershey’s private greenhouse in 1909, the displays grew more elaborate each year and expanded as new conservatories were built.

The conservatories were open year round and were a popular destination in the winter months. The Hershey Press provided detailed reports of the flora displayed in the greenhouses. During the colder months the greenhouses were filled with the many palms, rubber trees, ferns and that were placed throughout Hershey during the warm months. In addition the greenhouses were used to propagate bedding plants such as coleus, geraniums, and begonias that would be planted throughout the community in its many flower beds.

The Easter displays quickly became an annual tradition in Hershey. The event, initially held on Easter afternoon and later expanding the the entire week before Easter, drew thousands of people to see elaborate displays of blooming Spring blooms and other flowers.

The fifth annual Easter Flower Show was held in 1913, the town’s 10th anniversary. Both conservatories were opened for visitors on Easter Day from noon to 6 p.m. The flower variety was impressive, including Chinese baby primroses, California poppies, red aftrican daisies, lilies and cyclamens as well as hundreds of tulips, hyacinths, and daffodils. In addition the the elaborate floral exhibits, guests were treated to the fun of seeing tropical birds, fish and even the zoo’s alligators who were housed in one of the conservatories.



Hershey Zoo conservatory (now part of ZooAmerica Desert animal exhibit), ca. 1916

The show was enlarged in 1914 with the addition of a new conservatory located in the Hershey Zoo. The lower level of this conservatory served as winter quarters for several zoo animals.

In 1917 the show was further expanded when the old laundry (future Zoo entrance building) was repurposed as a Horticultural Hall.


Hershey Greenhouse, ca1931-1940

Hershey Greenhouse, ca.1931-1940


The show was discontinued in 1918 and it was not reestablished for several years. In 1930 Hershey constructed a new expansive greenhouse. With the new structure, Hershey was inspired to reestablish the Easter Show tradition. It is uncertain when it was restarted. The first reference to the revived Easter Flower show appears in a 1935 issue of the Hotel Hershey Highlights. The article also mentioned the success of the 1934 show. The Flower Shows continued throughout the 1930s. The last show was held in 1942 and was discontinued the following year because of wartime restrictions.


Easter Flower Show, Hershey Greenhouse, ca.1931-1942

Easter Flower Show, Hershey Greenhouse, ca.1931-1942