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When the Last Home on West Derry Road Was Sold

West Derry Road was a public road that existed until 1980 that cut through what is today Hersheypark. One of the former homes on West Derry Road exists in Hersheypark today – The Lingle House in Pioneer Frontier Food Court. This house was sold to Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company (the owner of Hersheypark, then known as HERCO, Inc., and also goes by the abbreviation HE&R) on May 8, 1980.

A persistent myth about the Lingle House, 71 & 73 West Derry Road, is that it was the last home to have been sold to HE&R that was on West Derry Road. This is a myth because there was still one house remaining on West Derry Road after the Lingle House was sold.

This house was 23 West Derry Road.

Gerhart House in 1982
The Gerhart House, 23 West Derry Road, in 1982. The white building behind the house was a garage that later became the Engine House for Dry Gulch Railroad. The road behind that garage is Strawberry Alley.

The Gerhart House

Jacob S. Gerhart purchased 23 West Derry Road from Margaret Letterman Hill and William Hill on September 25, 1961. The house had been in the Letterman family since 1923. The lot the house was on was originally part of a plot of 8 lots known as the Village of Spring Creek, laid out by Martin L. Nissley circa 1849. This is also one of the few properties of the 8 original lots to have been owned for a time by Milton S. Hershey; he owned the property from 1903 to 1905.

1981-08-05 Gerhart, Jacob to HERCO
Deed indenture between Jacob S. Gerhart and HERCO, Inc. (today HE&R) on July 31, 1981.

The Gerhart’s didn’t sell their home to HE&R until July 31, 1981, a year and three months after the Lingle House was sold.

After the property became part of Hersheypark, the house remained for a number of years before being removed. The big garage in back of the house was kept and used as the Dry Gulch Railroad engine house when the Railroad was converted from its figure eight route to an oval route in 1984.

2017-07-08 Dry Gulch Engine House [23 West Derry Road garage]
Dry Gulch Railroad Engine House in 2017.

Deed history (1849 – 1981)

Grantor Grantee Date sold
Jacob S. Gerhart HERCO Inc. 1981-07-31
Margaret Letterman Hill Jacob S. Gerhart 1961-09-21
Carrie A. Letterman Carrie A. Letterman 1955-01-05
23 West Derry Road created from
the merging of Tracts No. 1, 2, and 3.

Tract No. 1

Grantor Grantee Date sold
John Yetter, Jr. Harriet Kettering 1864-02-29
George Brown (Wendell Henry) John Yetter, Jr. 18??-04-02
Martin L. Nissley George Brown 1849-08-20

Tract No. 1 created from Nissley farm as Lot No. 4
in Spring Creek village plan.

Tract No. 2

Grantor Grantee Date sold
John H. Gordon Carrie A. Letterman 1922-01-18
Milton S. Hershey John H. Gordon 1905-08-31
Tract No. 2 created from 15 West Derry Road.

Tract No. 3

Grantor Grantee Date sold
John H. Gordon Carrie A. Letterman 1923-07-14
Milton S. Hershey John H. Gordon 1905-08-31
Tract No. 3 created from 15 West Derry Road.

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Harry Michelson View All

I have a wide variety of interests, from sports to politics, music to Star Trek. I write about the history of amusement parks on my website, The Amusement Parkives, which I founded in 2016.

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