Brief History of Old Senior Hall
on Pat’s Hill

  • A vintage aerial overview of the old Senior Hall on Pat's Hill.First planned by Mr. Hershey to be a vocational school for the entire community.
  • D. Paul Witmer designed and supervised the building of Senior Hall.
  • Built during the depression years providing employment for the area.
  • It took one and a half years (800,000 hours of labor) to construct Senior Hall at a cost of $2,500,000.00.
  • The building contains 13 buildings in one. These building areas are connected by halls in a unique design, which gives function to all educational areas.
  • Building: 780' long and 425' deep.
  • Auditorium: 80' x 170' and was designed to seat 1,574.
  • Building capacity: 1,500 students.
  • Each shop area contained 6,000 sq. ft. when constructed.
  • The gym seats 3,000.
  • The cafeteria seats 700 students.
  • The Trade School opened officially on September 5, 1934, with 86 boys enrolled in the shop program at Senior Hall. A trolley brought students to the building. The trolley tunnel, through which students entered the building, is still in existence. It is located on the north side of the building near the swimming pool.
  • Building dedicated on Thursday, November 15, 1934. Mr. Hershey was present and spoke to the audience. Keynote speaker at the dedication was Dr. James N. Rule who was the State's Superintendent of Public Instruction at the time. Also at the dedication was the president of Girard College in Philadelphia, the president of Lebanon Valley College, the president of Gettysburg College, and the professor of History at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster. Approximately 1,400 were in attendance.
  • Since the start of classes in 1934, there have been a number of vocational courses available to students as the school adjusted its vocational program to meet the need of a developing industrial nation, and employment opportunities available to students. Some of the courses over the years have been: Agri-Business, Auto Mechanics, Carpentry, Electricity, Electronics, Food Service, General Building Trades, Machine Shop, Plumbing and Heating, Printing, Sheet Metal, Baking, Candy Making, Vocational General, Meat Processing/Abattoir/Butchering, Creamery/Dairy Products, Floriculture, Poultry, Co-op (without a course), Orchard/Fruit Growing, Drafting, and HERO (Home Economics Related Occupations).
  • Vocational program developed by Earle Markley who was Director of Vocational Education at the public high school. Mr. Hershey personally hired Mr. Markley to be Vocational Director of the program for the Industrial School.
  • Mr. Hershey insisted that one of the shop areas at the new Jr./Sr. High School would be a ceramic shop. This shop was discontinued after a few years for lack of interest among the students.
  • First class to graduate was the class of 1935. Mr. Hershey, himself, handed diplomas to the graduates.
  • Machine Shop trained women from Olmstead Field in Middletown during the Second World War to work in the engine repair shops at the air base.
  • Airplane engine repair was a popular program with many boys during the Second World War.
  • The funeral of Milton S. Hershey was held in the auditorium of the Jr./Sr. High School building on Pat's Hill, October 1945.
  • Library enlarged in 1954.
  • In addition to the Library, the Auto-Mechanics shop area was expanded, a music suite with a band room, practice rooms, and choral room were all added to the building in the period 1955-63.
  • Anniversary Carillon installed in 1959 with electronic bells in the central bell tower.
  • Building renovated in the 1960s with the installation of new student lockers, new science rooms, upgraded classrooms and offices in educational areas, as well as improvements in facilities and equipment in the vocational areas of the building. The exterior of the building was sand blasted making the appearance look as it did when dedicated in 1934.
  • School year 1965-66 was the last year grades 6-8 attended classes on Pat's Hill.
  • Building renamed Senior Hall in 1966.
  • Until 1971, the superintendent's office was located at Senior Hall. Since that time, it has been in Founders Hall.
  • Last senior class to graduate from Senior Hall: Class of 2000.
  • Building was utilized as the elementary school from June 2000 to June 2003 while Memorial Hall was being expanded and renovated.

Source: MHS Historical Records, 11/18/03