History of the Hershey History Center
Our organizational history has deep roots, and over the course of 30 years, we have grown significantly, embracing change and welcoming greater opportunities to share our mission and collective history with more audiences.
In 1991, the Derry Township Historical Society was established, at the request of municipal leaders and community members who had an interest in formally documenting and collecting our local heritage. Over the course of the next 30 years, we evolved from an all-volunteer operation with provisional locations offering limited storage and exhibition space, to a substantial community history center with permanent staff.
In 2003, the DTHS made a significant acquisition, purchasing our building, an adapted-reuse barn known as Pinehurst No. 35. In 2007, Derry Township Historical Society’s name was altered to include Hershey, better signifying its location and relevance to the community. Through the next decade, our facility underwent extensive renovations, our programs and offerings expanded, and a new, outdoor, multi-use event space was created.
All of this led to a more refined and dynamic organization for those who contributed through the years. Organizational growth prompted yet another change: a new brand name which represents the diversity and evolution of the Historical Society, while still providing insight into our shared heritage and community narrative.
Adopted in 2020, the brand Hershey History Center celebrates our achievements, focuses on our mission, and defines our relevance and sustainability. As we continue to increase access for research and demonstrate our role in preservation, our museum, educational programs, and events illustrate the value of our collections. With pride, we remain the legal entity of the Hershey-Derry Township Historical Society for the benefit of our community.
History of the Pinehurst Barn
Early references indicate that a dairy farm was established on this location in 1820, substantiated by landowner maps which notate J. Hershey as the property owner. John was Milton S. Hershey’s great uncle, and had two sons, Martin and Menno, who inherited this property.
In 1861, the property was deeded solely to Martin by his brother Menno. Historical records also indicate that the barn burned and was completely rebuilt in 1916. At the time of Martin’s death, Milton S. Hershey purchased the farm property and rebuilt the farmhouse, intending to expand his dairy program for Hershey Industrial School (H.I.S.).
In 1931, H.I.S. student home Pinehurst #35 was officially opened, one of 44 new farm homes to house the growing number of orphan boys enrolled in the School. All students in grades 6-12 were placed in farm homes, like Pinehurst, where they performed daily dairy chores.
In the 1950s, H.I.S. graduates who were continuing their education at the Hershey Junior College lived in the home and performed dairy chores as part of their college scholarship arrangement. In 1965, the dairy was closed and students in other vocational programs were assigned to the home.
As programs in the School adapted to contemporary needs and primary activities moved to the south side of the Hershey community, the decision was made to close the home as a student residence. 1980 was the last year students from Milton Hershey School (formerly the Hershey Industrial School) were housed at Pinehurst.