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A Lasting Tribute: Founders Hall Celebrates 50 Years

Fifty years ago, Milton Hershey School dedicated an iconic building on campus, Founders Hall, in honor of Milton Hershey’s 113th birthday. The building was a part of a bigger plan to create a lasting tribute to the founders of MHS, Milton and Catherine Hershey.

Founders Hall dedication ceremony on Sept. 13, 1970

Founders Hall dedication ceremony on Sept. 13, 1970.

As the school prepared to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 1959, it assembled a committee of nationally-recognized experts to assess programs and facilities needed to move MHS forward. Under the leadership of Dr. John O. Hershey, the MHS Anniversary Evaluation Committee made two recommendations: Create an administrative center in a central location and develop a space where the MHS community can gather for special events. Founders Hall was the solution.

The husband and wife architect team of Clifford and Melissa Coleman from Lancaster County spent seven years designing the building. The Colemans had a long, working relationship with MHS. They renovated the original Fanny B. Memorial Hall, Kinderhaus, the Homestead, and several existing student homes. They also designed Catherine Hall and many of the new student homes.

A concept drawling of Founders Hall

This concept drawing shows an early rendering of the Rotunda.

On August 28, 1967, construction broke ground on Founders Hall. The building was built over a three-year period in the late 1960s. Modern in every way, this building reflected Milton Hershey’s interest in cutting-edge technologies and advanced design and safety features—including fireproof construction. It was one of the first buildings in the area to employ geothermal technology.

The design of Founders Hall is unique and striking with a dome that measures 74 feet from floor to interior ceiling and 137 feet 3 inches from floor to the exterior roof. The works of art featured throughout contribute to its beauty including the sculptural flying fish fountain at the front entrance by Aristides Demetrios, and the Florentine mosaic in the rotunda floor by Leif Neandross.

Founders Hall rotunda

This week on Milton Hershey’s 163rd birthday, Founders Hall stands true to the vision of MHS; building a better life for children in need.

Currently under construction, Founders Hall will open its new Visitors Center virtually this November with state-of-the-art technology that will leave a lasting impression of the Hersheys’ philanthropy and how their generosity gave hope to so many.


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