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MS Hershey Foundation

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During the construction of Highpoint Mansion, the home of Milton S Hershey that overlooked his chocolate factory, Hershey is said to have looked at the plans and told the architect to remove the library and in its place install a billiards room.

Hershey only received a modest education in his childhood; but in 1935, he saw to the education of the town which bears his name through the creation of the MS Hershey Foundation Trust. One of the first institutions created by the Foundation was the Hershey Junior College.

Hershey Junior College

The Hershey Junior College was created in August 1938 and provided a free education to graduates of Derry Township public schools who lived in the township, as well as to selected graduates of the Hershey Industrial School1. The college was operated by the Derry Township School District with funds from the MS Hershey Foundation.

During its first year, the college enrolled 62 students - 42 from Hershey High School and 20 from Hershey Industrial School. Another 60 students took part in the night school programme.

The college was designed with three programmes of study. The first was a general programme for students taking two years of academic study to prepare them for transfer to other colleges. The business programme was for students to learn secretarial work or prepare them to continue studying business science at a four-year university. The third programme offered vocational training for students who wanted to learn a trade.

By 1955, the school's enrolment had doubled, and it continued to increase during the 1960s. In 1964, the cost for operating the school exceeded the income provided by the Foundation's 5,000 shares of Hershey Chocolate Company common stock. It was proposed that tuition be charged for the first time for students. But as part of the public school system, the junior college could not legally charge tuition; so a decision needed to be made: merge the college with the recently established Harrisburg Area Community College, or attempt to establish the junior college as a separate entity from the public schools.

The public school board voted to merge with HACC, and the Hershey Junior College operated as a branch of the community college in its final school year, 1965 - 66. More than 300 students enrolled in the junior college that final year (its highest enrolment ever), and 98 graduated in June 1965. In its 26 years of operation, the Hershey Junior College granted 1,271 degrees and had enrolled close to 3,850 full-time students.

Hershey Community Center

Dedicated in 1933 as a gift to his town on its 30th anniversary, the Hershey Community Center stands at the corner of Chocolate and Cocoa Avenues in the heart of downtown Hershey. The building was home to an indoor swimming pool, gymnasium, game rooms and social rooms, as well as two theatres, the Hershey Junior College, and the Hershey Public Library.

The library remained in the Community Center until 1980, when the Foundation turned over control to the township government. The library moved into the MS Hershey Consolidated School in January, 1981, and moved again into a township-funded building along Cocoa Avenue in 1997. The library remains separate from the Dauphin County Library System and is considered one of the best public libraries in the state of Pennsylvania.

The Foundation created the Cocoa Avenue Plaza in 1963 as a division of the Community Center. The plaza featured an indoor/outdoor swimming pool and tennis courts. But these activities were turned over to the township government in 1976. The Cocoa Avenue Plaza still offers swimming, tennis, and other activities to township residents at reduced rates. The Community Center building is now home to the Hershey Foods Corporate Administrative Center.

The only community activity still taking place in the former Community Center building is the Hershey Theatre, which continues its tradition of fine entertainment. Performances at the theatre run from October to April and include concerts, dance revues, touring Broadway shows, and classic films.

Hershey Museum

In 1933, Milton Hershey purchased a collection of thousands of Native American artefacts, displaying them in a museum free of charge for the residents of his community. The Hershey American Indian Museum opened in the autumn of 1933 to coincide with the dedication of the Community Center.

The museum was originally housed in the home and office of Hershey's cousin Dr Martin L Hershey, in a limestone building along East Derry Road. The building still stands and is now home to the American Legion.

The original collection represented Native American tribes from the South-western Desert, Northwest Coast, the Great Plains, Alaska, and the Eastern Woodlands. The museum's collection was expanded in 1935 when Hershey paid $50,000 for a collection of 18th and 19th Century objects relating to the heritage of Pennsylvania's Germanic population, the so-called Pennsylvania Dutch.

The Hershey Museum opened in its present location on the western end of the Hersheypark Arena in 1938. Initially controlled by the Hershey Estates, the museum became part of the MS Hershey Foundation in 1982. As a non-profit educational organization, the museum could accept grants and tax-deductible donations.

Today, the Hershey Museum features permanent displays in three areas: Native American Heritage, the Germanic Heritage of Pennsylvania, and the History of Derry Township.

Hershey Gardens

Milton Hershey surrounded his home, Highpoint Mansion, with lush gardens and was said to have tried his hand at growing new varieties of roses.

In 1936, the Hershey Rose Garden opened its gates atop Pat's Hill. Initially operated by the Hershey Estates, the gardens expanded to 21 acres during Hershey's lifetime. In 1941, a red rose variety developed by the Conrad-Pyle Company was named after Hershey. The MS Hershey Foundation assumed day-to-day operation of the gardens in 1989.

Now covering 23 acres, the Hershey Gardens features a few of the 'Hershey Roses', as well as a few from the Highpoint rose garden which were transplanted in 1954. In 1998, the Hershey Gardens unveiled its Butterfly House, which is open mid-June through to mid-September.

The Butterfly House features more than 400 butterflies, representing more than 25 varieties. It was built from the materials of one wing of a large greenhouse, which was built near the chocolate factory by Milton Hershey in the 1920s. The gardens also feature tulips and several varieties of lush flowering trees, including cherries, plums, crabapples and dogwoods.

Hershey Community Archives

In 1984, the MS Hershey Foundation established the Hershey Community Archives, with the co-operation of the Hershey Foods Corporation and Hershey Entertainment and Resorts Company.

Founded in the basement of Highpoint Mansion, the archives exist to provide a community record of the history and development of the town. The collection includes materials donated by businesses and individuals, as well as dozens of oral history records.

Researchers should make appointments to access the Hershey Archives, which are presently located in a converted barn off Pennsy Supply Road on the north side of Hersheypark Drive.

Chocolatetown Square

The Foundation is also responsible for Chocolatetown Square, which is a large park in the centre of Hershey's downtown business district. The square is home for a number of free community events each summer, which are organized by the Hershey Museum with the co-operation of the Hershey Public Library and the Central Pennsylvania Friends of Jazz. In addition, a large community Christmas tree is placed in Chocolatetown Square every December, and the whole community gathers together for the tree lighting ceremony, which is traditionally followed by Christmas carols and free hot cocoa.

1The Hershey Industrial School became the Milton Hershey School in 1951.

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