Hershey, Pennsylvania - A History


Here's a little background on the chocolate capital of North America: HERSHEY(tm) HISTORY Milton S. Hershey, at the tender age of six, had set his sights on a small town northwest of Lancaster in Derry Township, Pennsylvania. This was his birthplace, and it is where he would return to build his chocolate empire and create a whole new way of life. His candy, his town, his park and his hotel were all forged out of his determination to make dreams come true. The young entrepreneur left the countryside to conquer the world of candymaking and embarked on several unsuccessful business ventures in Philadelphia, New York, Denver and Chicago. After each attempt ended in bankruptcy, Milton Hershey finally returned to his native Lancaster County in 1886 and focused his efforts on caramels as he built up the Lancaster Caramel Company. Twelve tremendously successful years later, he sold the company for $1 million--a move that marked the beginning of Hershey as we know it today. With this new-found capital and an acquired knowledge in milk chocolate production, Milton Hershey created Hershey's milk chocolate bar--the cornerstone of what is today the world's largest chocolate manufacturing plant. But Milton Hershey had bigger plans that exceeded his successful confectionery business. He envisioned a town built for his family and for the people who worked in his factory. And so, in 1897, Hershey acquired the family's original home, The Homestead farm, in Derry Church. The Pennsylvania countryside provided the pure milk and fresh water needed to make quality chocolate and The Homestead provided a hub for his new ventures. He hired architects to design and build homes, each individual and unique, for the chocolate-factory workers. He laid out avenues and named them after the places where cocoa is grown. He mapped out parks, built schools and public buildings. By 1927, Hershey Estates was incorporated under state law and included a park and zoo (what is today Hersheypark(tm)), a bank, a department store, the Convention Hall, utility companies and various other community building programs and enterprises. As the Roaring Twenties came to a close, the Great Depression hit the country by storm, but luckily skirted the town of Hershey. It was during this time when industry lagged and jobs were scarce that Milton Hershey took a risk and instituted his "Great Building Campaign," aimed at providing work for the townspeople. During this multi-million dollar program two historic buildings were constructed, The Hotel Hershey and the Community Building (now the Hershey Foods Corporate Administrative Center), employing more than two hundred bricklayers, carpenters, electricians, masons, plumbers, and other skilled workers. Completed in May 1933 and styled after the famous 19th-century grand hotels of the Mediterranean, the hotel was described by the late world traveler Lowell Thomas as a "palace that outpalaces the palaces of the Maharajahs of India." The Hotel Hershey became Milton Hershey's prized achievement and it is where he spent his later years. "Other men have yachts to play with. This hotel is my yacht," Mr. Hershey boasted. The 241-room luxury resort, including 26 suites and a guesthouse, is renowned for its gracious accommodations, elegant dining in the renowned Circular Dining Room and the newly opened Fountain Cafe. Its novel design features a Spanish-influenced fountain lobby with intricately-designed mosaic floors and oak railed mezzanines. Today, The Hotel Hershey continues to preserve its original historic architecture and ambiance and is one of 100 members of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Historic Hotels of America. The hotel is a recipient of the prestigious AAA Four Diamond rating and has won a number of awards. Recreation facilities include tennis, indoor and outdoor swimming, horse-drawn carriage rides, cycling and a fitness room. In the winter, cross-country skiing, sledding and tobogganing are popular. Golf has been a tradition in Chocolate Town USA, ever since Milton Hershey announced the beginnings of a new golf tournament in 1933 that was played on the expanded links of The Country Club of Hershey. Today known as the "Golf Capital of Pennsylvania," Hershey offers championship golf at five courses: The West Course and the East Course at the Country Club of Hershey, Spring Creek Golf Course, South Course, an executive course at The Hotel Hershey, and a chip-and-putt course at The Hershey Lodge. Continuing to uphold Milton Hershey's traditional belief values, Hershey Resorts built The Hershey Lodge in the 1960's. Located on 33 acres, The Hershey Lodge is ideal for travelers with small children or for those who prefer the relaxed atmosphere of the lush countryside. The recipient of the 1994 Gold Key Award presented by "Meetings and Convention Magazine," The Hershey Lodge offers 457 spacious guestrooms, a fitness center, a cinema showing first-run movies and indoor and outdoor pools. Entertainment and dining options at The Hershey Lodge include the newly-renovated 200-seat J.P Mallard's nightclub, fine dining in the elegant Tack Room, a homestyle environment at The Hearth, casual fare at the Copper Kettle and cocktails in the Forebay Lounge. Campers will also feel at home and find a variety of tent and recreational vehicle sites among the 55 acres of rolling countryside grounds at Hershey Highmeadow Camp. For hotel reservations and information on Hershey and its attractions, please call (800)-533-3131.

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