One of the stops on our Wednesday morning trolley tour of Hershey, PA, was the Founders Hall at the Milton Hershey School (P. O. Box 830, Hershey, PA 17033; 717/520-2000; www.mhsKids.org ). Milton and Catherine Hershey, who made a fortune in the chocolate industry, had a deep concern for children. They were unable to have any of their own, so they adopted four, with the hope of adding more, so to keep from overtaxing the public schools, Hershey founded the Hershey Industrial School in 1909. Unfortunately, Catherine died just a few years later. In 1918 Hershey gave virtually all his personal fortune to the school to provide for its continuation.
The school continued to grow until today Milton Hershey School is the country’s largest pre-kindergarten through grade 12 home and school for boys and girls of low income and social need. All students, more than 1,800, attend free of charge and receive housing; education; clothing, meals, and medical, dental, religious, psychological, and other services. Some 90% go on to college. Built in 1970, he Founders Hall houses a huge rotunda which, at 74 feet high is the second largest rotunda in the world, the chapel auditorium, the dining room, and administrative offices. There are a life-sized painting of Milton and Catherine Hershey by artist Robert A. Anderson, painted in 2008 and based on a photography of the Hersheys taken in Nice, France, in 1910, and a bronze statue of Milton S. Hershey and a young boy by sculptor Walker Hancock, donated to MHS for its 50th anniversary in 1959.