To PRESERVE, Promote, and Interpret
The mission of the Hershey History Center is to preserve, promote, and interpret the history of our town. According to the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office, Hershey is unlike most traditional communities, as it was designed as a company town.
In the early 20th century, with company employees and their families in mind, the Corporation and subsidiary developers devised a village core designed to accommodate automobiles right from the start with access to the downtown. Other similar towns from that era were concentrated along streetcar corridors, miles away from the town center. The juxtaposition of 20th century housing stock, embodying the diverse architectural designs of the time period, just blocks from the historic corporate headquarters and downtown business district, defines our distinct character.
In America, many small towns are facing a crisis by losing their historical building presence and context. It is through the historic buildings and homes of a town that we witness and pay tribute to its cultural heritage. In Hershey, the demolition of buildings and homes has become a familiar practice.
The Hershey History Center endeavors to support Derry Township in preserving and protecting the architectural and cultural integrity of our town. We want to work with the community and the Township to define the boundaries of the downtown village core and develop a Preservation Review Committee. The intention is to avert rapid demolition and facilitate review and recommendations to sustain our town’s architectural heritage.
This is not a proposal to mandate certain use of materials or regulate paint colors and design elements for properties, as you find in a historic district. This is a proposal to prevent demolition and broad-scale rebuilds that do not reflect the historical character of the community, and that presently require no review. The intent is to raise awareness that the character of our downtown neighborhoods need to be preserved and that doing so protects the value of all properties.
The preservation of old buildings and homes is a one-way street; there is no chance to renovate or save a historic structure once it is gone. The process of improving historic preservation in Hershey, thereby protecting our town’s character, is a complex process that requires the work of many dedicated individuals acting in unity.
Join us by lending your support to further the dialogue and halt the rapid alterations to our community’s streetscapes, and help us to preserve the future of our history.