1962 Stageway Chevrolet Station Wagon Coach
Begins Second Life in Hershey, PA at AACA Museum
Images courtesy of Milton Hershey School ®
March 18, 2015 (Hershey, PA) The AACA Museum is excited to have a very special vehicle return to its roots in Hershey, PA. A 1962 Stageway Chevrolet Station Wagon Coach was recently purchased by three Milton Hershey School Alumni: Jim Hanawalt, John Hanawalt and Rosario (Roy) Sollazzi and donated to the AACA Museum. This intriguing vehicle will be on display as part of the upcoming “A Family Affair: Station Wagons” exhibit running May 23 – October 11 at the AACA Museum in Hershey.
For those unfamiliar with the story, Milton Hershey School was founded by entrepreneur businessman and philanthropist Milton S. Hershey and his wife Catherine to provide a home and education for orphan boys. Today, Milton Hershey School is a home and school for 2,000 students from families from lower income, both girls and boys. True to the ideals of its mission since 1909, Milton Hershey School exists to nurture and educate children in social and financial need enabling them to lead fulfilling and productive lives.
Station wagons were chosen by Milton Hershey School in an effort to provide a more family like home life. In the 1960’s Milton Hershey School purchased a number of Stageway modified Chevrolet Station Wagons to transport the students to and from school and a variety of school related activities and field trips. These rather unusual vehicles could be seen driving around the town of Hershey beginning in the early 1960s with this model, then with heavier Pontiac Catalina wagons purchased in 1968 for Senior Division continuing into the 1980s when transportation was changed over to vans.
In 1962, each of these particular station wagons was equipped with a 327 cubic-inch 250 horsepower V-8 engine, power steering, power brakes and a three-speed manual transmission. The station wagons were modified so that they would be able to accommodate fourteen students. Regular Chevrolet Biscayne wagons were sent to Stageway Coaches where they were cut in two, lengthened then re-welded creating a larger capacity vehicle. The fourth and fifth seats were able to fold down allowing for the transport of meals from a central kitchen to the student homes. Back in the 1960s, housefathers that were driving students to and from school were instructed to use roads going around town to avoid causing traffic delays in the downtown area given the size and number of these vehicles that were on the road.
This specific wagon was originally used at Milton Hershey School student home “Lincoln” then later transitioned to student home “Fairway” sometime in the late 60’s or early 70s For almost three decades these wagons played a highly visible and important role in the lives of those who attended and graduated from Milton Hershey School. Those 8 door stretch station wagons that were once a ubiquitous part of the Hershey landscape are gone but not forgotten. For those who were MHS students during that era, there are many fond (and oftentimes humorous) memories of riding in them as youths. To the population who lived in Hershey and the surrounding area during that time, these wagons represented a unique and lasting impression of Milton Hershey School. The AACA Museum is excited to share this vehicle and its unique story as part of the Family Affair: Station Wagons exhibit. The wagon will require extensive restoration to return it to its original condition and burgundy color. The AACA Museum will work with the Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport, PA to complete this restoration as a student project. To raise funds for the restoration the Museum has set up a web page (http://www.AACAMuseum.org/wagonrestoration) for those individuals and organizations who share our vision of giving this regional piece of history new life.
Plan a road trip this summer to the AACA Museum in Hershey to see this vehicle and lots of other great Station Wagons that became known for family transportation and fun. Other special Museum exhibits include Motorbikes for the Masses showcasing a variety of mopeds and scooters and Automotive Jewelry a photography exhibit by Michael Furman highlighting the beauty of automobile hood ornaments or mascots.
ABOUT MILTON HERSHEY SCHOOL:
Milton Hershey School® is one of the world’s best private schools, offering a top-notch education and positive home life to children in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade from families of lower income at no charge. Learn more at www.mhskids.org.
About the AACA Museum:
The AACA Museum, a Smithsonian Affiliate, displays beautifully restored automobiles, buses and motorcycles in unique life-like scenes representing the 1890s – 1980s in a cross-country journey from New York to San Francisco. This Museum, a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization, is known to be one of the largest automotive museums. Special exhibits change several times a year and focus on a variety of eras and types of vehicles. The Museum is in South Hanover Township, located just off Route 39, one mile west of Hersheypark Drive, Hershey, Pennsylvania. Regular admission $12, seniors age 61 and older $11, juniors age 4-12 $9, children age 3 and under and AACA Members are FREE. The Museum is open daily from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. New for 2015, the AACA Museum will be open from 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM on the first Thursday of each month. For further information, please call 717-566-7100 or visit www.AACAMuseum.org.
Note: Special thanks to Milton Hershey School for providing resources.