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The Ridgeway-Vian Milton S. Hershey Student Home

Photo of Ridgeway BuildingOur Hershey Brownstone office is located in the original Ridgeway-Vian Milton Hershey Student Home. It gives us a unique perspective of Hershey past and present, especially when a visitor pops in and asks to look around the office. Many remember when the building was a student home. A few have even shared stories of when they lived here. Naturally, the building has been redesigned for office space, but the original structure and enduring history remain.

The photo to the left is how the building appeared prior to renovations.

Originally a dairy operation, Vian became a student home in 1939. At that time it was referred to (as were all Hershey dairies) by number--Dairy 51. A renovated two-story farm home, it accommodated approximately 22-24 boys through the 1940's as part of the Milton S. Hershey Industrial School. In the 1960's the number was reduced to 16.

Built as one of 56 new student homes in the 1960's, Ridgeway officially opened April 18, 1966. Housing 16 boys, it served as the sister home for Vian. Together both groups of boys worked in Dairy 51.

A normal day began at 5:45 AM. Chores were divided between tasks at the barn and house with an alternating schedule, allowing all of the boys a chance to learn both sets of chores. The tasks helped develop unity between the students as a family group while imparting practical skills.

Those scheduled to work in the dairy made their bed, changed into barn clothes, and were at the barn ready for work by 6:00 AM. Those remaining at the house set the table and had breakfast ready for 7:00 AM when the other boys returned. The only daily meal cooked in the home, breakfast was a time when house parents and boys sat down together as a family. Though there was sure to be excited chatter and friendly jibes around the table, manners were emphasized, and the camaraderie of the meal carried throughout the day. By 7:30 AM breakfast was finished and the house boys cleared the table and washed the dishes. Those who worked at the barn returned to finish their chores or, if their tasks for the morning were complete, showered and changed into their school clothes. By 8:00 AM they gathered at the family station wagon or van, and the house father drove them to school. When school finished at 2:30 PM, those boys not involved in extracurricular activities returned to the student home at were back in the barn for afternoon chores by four o'clock.

Dinner was served at 5:30, and generally finished by six o'clock. House boys cleared the table and cleaned the kitchen, after which they enjoyed free time until 7:30 PM. Homes had recreation areas set aside for model building, board games, Ping-Pong, wrestling and even an outdoor basketball hoop. At 7:30 the boys hit the books, studying and completing homework. When they were done at 8:30, there was usually a snack waiting in the kitchen--cookies and milk, chocolate cake or a fresh slice of pie. The boys watched TV until 9:30 when it was time to begin getting ready for bed. By 10PM the lights were out, and the pattern started over the next morning with the advance of returning daylight.

Ridgeway served as a student home until July 21st, 1999 and has been home to Brownstone Real Estate since 2001. Our company was founded in Hershey in 1971. Given our strong connection to the local area, we’re proud to be part of Chocolatetown’s history in more ways than one!

Brownstone Real Estate Hershey Office

Candy Ortenzio
Executive Administrator
Brownstone Real Estate Co.

Photo of Brownstone Real Estate Hershey Office as it appears now