Chocolate Crossroads: Chocolate and Cocoa Avenues, Northeast Corner
In early 2011 construction began a two year project to straighten the intersection of Cocoa and Chocolate Avenues and build a new bridge over the railroad tracks.
As much as we talk about how Hershey has changed since Milton Hershey’s death in 1945, changes to Hershey’s physical landscape were also part of the community during his lifetime. This was particularly true for the intersection of Chocolate and Cocoa Avenues.
Chocolate Avenue, Hershey’s main street, was the new name given to the Berks and Dauphin County Turnpike, a well established 19th century road that linked Lebanon and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The four corners created by the intersection of Chocolate and Cocoa Avenues formed the town center.
The first building placed on this corner of Chocolate and Cocoa Avenues was the first public building to be erected by Milton Hershey. “Cocoa House” was home to many of the services and early businesses established by Milton Hershey to manage the town.
The first floor housed the Hershey Trust Company, the new Hershey Post Office and a general store. Established in 1905, the Hershey Trust Company operated out of the Cocoa House until 1914. The second floor of the Cocoa House provided much needed boarding rooms for the new community’s male residents. It quickly emerged as the town’s first center for community life. Many volunteer organizations and services first began operating out of the Cocoa House.
Hershey’s Men’s Club
The YMCA (future Hershey’s Men’s Club) was established in 1910. In 1911 the building was enlarged with Hershey’s first indoor pool and a gymnasium. In 1912 the YMCA and the YWCA established the Hershey Public Library which operated out of the Cocoa House during its first year. It soon moved across the street to a larger space in the Hershey Store Company.
In 1914 Hershey Trust Company moved next door and Hershey Post Office moved out of the Fire Company building and into the Cocoa House. This move helped to centralize many of the town’s community service operations.
In 1915 Hershey’s first visitor bureau opened in the Cocoa House. The Bureau provided information about the community and its attractions. Visitors could also get admission tickets to tour the chocolate factory.
A few years later in 1918 Cocoa House was enlarged again when a one story addition was built for a new cafeteria style restaurant, the Hershey Quick Lunch.
Hershey Women’s Club
In 1932, Hershey Men’s Club moved across the street to the newly completed Hershey Community Building. Cocoa House was remodeled to accommodate the Hershey Women’s Club.
By the early 1960s the Women’s Club and the Men’s Club functions had been replaced by recreational activities provided by the Hershey Community Center. In 1963 the building was razed and replaced with a new Hershey Estates office building. The first floor housed the Hershey Drug Store which featured a soda fountain, retail shop and pharmacy. The second and third floors were occupied by Hershey Estates corporate offices. In 1980 the offices moved to 300 Park Boulevard. Since then the building has been occupied by varied Hershey entities.
Learn more about the other corners of the intersection: