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Cover image courtesy of the Jim Seelen Motel Images Collection.

The town of Hershey, Pennsylvania, was founded by chocolate magnate Milton S. Hershey in 1903 as a place where his workers could live with all the modern amenities of the time. Hershey wanted to create for them “a perfect American town in a bucolic natural setting, where healthy, right-living, and well-paid workers lived in safe, happy homes.”

Indeed, each of their homes had electricity, indoor plumbing, and central heating. They went to work by way of a public trolley system. Their children were educated in a free school, and golf courses, an amusement park, a community center, a hotel, a zoo, and a sports arena were also built to provide them with recreation and entertainment.

Hershey decided to keep his chocolate manufacturing separate from these other projects (which also included the town’s utilities), so he placed all of his non-chocolate producing ventures under the name Hershey Estates.

Postcard of and artist's rendering of an aerial view of the Hershey Lodge around 1967.
An aerial view of the Hershey Lodge appears on the front of this circa 1967 postcard. Public Domain.

How “Suite” It Is

By the mid-20th century, the town of Hershey would become not only a place in which to do business, but also a destination for hundreds who sought out recreation and entertainment in “Sweetest Place On Earth®”. And although tourism was a boon to the local economy, the flood of tourists also brought with it other issues such as parking and traffic.

In order to curb these problems, the Hershey Estates came up with the idea for a large 200 room motel that would the west end of town. However, that didn’t come without its own set of problems.

You see, the geology of Hershey makes it prone to sinkholes (a problem which persists in the area to this day). In fact, when the motel was being built, the entrance had to be moved no less than three times because of them.

Nevertheless, the Hershey Motor Lodge opened its doors on May 1, 1967. The new family-centered motel featured 200 guest rooms with curbside access, the Hearth Room Restaurant, two meeting rooms capable of holding 400 people, and an outdoor swimming pool. It was an immediate success.

A More Than Conventional Convention Center

Postcard feauturing several of the amenities available at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center.
All the amenities available at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center in this postcard from c. 1974. Public Domain.

Having the forethought to see that Hershey could become a Mecca for tourists and business people alike, Hershey Estates planned the Hershey Motor Lodge with expansion in mind. Therefore, after discovering that the only large meeting facilities available in Pennsylvania were on either end of the state, they decided to build a convention center right there in central Pennsylvania.

The largest convention center between Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Baltimore, was opened on March 25 1974. To show the enormity of the space available, oversized everyday items like telephones and beer bottles along with large scale construction equipment was brought into the Convention Hall.

Indeed, The Hershey Motor Lodge had been transformed into The Hershey Lodge and Convention Center offering meeting and convention space ranging from a banquet for 1500 to a boardroom meeting for 24. The upper and lower levels of the Convention Hall provided over 30,000 square feet of usable space, a 4500 square foot upper lobby and a 325 seat mini theatre.

Postcard of the Hershey Lodge in more modern times.
The Hershey Lodge today from an undated postcard. Public Domain.

The Sweetest Stay in Chocolate Town® U.S.A

Today, Hershey Estates is now called Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company and The Hershey Lodge and Convention Center is simply known as the Hershey Lodge. Nearly 56 years after opening as a mid-century motor lodge, today it is one of the largest and most popular places to stay in the Keystone State today with over 665 guest rooms and 100,000 square feet of event space.

Kids love it for its indoor pool complex and it proximity to all the local attractions like Hershey Park and the Hershey Zoo. Parents love it for its relaxing spa treatments at the MELTSPA including chocolate massages and baths.

If you’re interested in staying at the Hershey Lodge, the next time you’re in Chocolate Town® U.S.A, visit their website here for more information.

Illustration of the Stuckey's Mystery Box.
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