Chautauqua Institution: Wikis


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Chautauqua Institution Historic District
U.S. National Register of Historic Places
U.S. National Historic Landmark District
Hall of Philosophy
Location: Chautauqua, NY
Nearest city: Jamestown
Coordinates: 42°12′35″N 79°28′01″W / 42.20972°N 79.46694°W / 42.20972; -79.46694Coordinates: 42°12′35″N 79°28′01″W / 42.20972°N 79.46694°W / 42.20972; -79.46694
Area: 2,070 acres (8.3 km²)
Built/Founded: 1874
Architect: John Vincent, Lewis Miller
Architectural style(s): Late Victorian and other late 19th and early 20th-century architectural styles.
Governing body: Private (Chautauqua Institution)
Added to NRHP: June 19, 1973[1]
Designated NHLD: June 29, 1989[2]
NRHP Reference#: 73001168

The Chautauqua Institution is a non-profit adult education center and summer resort located on 750 acres (3 km²) in Chautauqua, New York, 17 miles (27 km) northwest of Jamestown in the western part of New York State. The Chautauqua Institution Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was further designated a National Historic Landmark.



It was founded in 1874 by inventor Lewis Miller and Methodist Bishop John Heyl Vincent as a camp for Sunday school teachers. The Institution has operated each summer since then, gradually expanding its season length and program offerings organized around the four pillars: arts, education, religion and recreation. It offers a wide range of educational activities to an average of 75,000 people, in residence on any particular day during the season, and another 145,000 during the season attend public events, including popular entertainment, theater, symphony, ballet and opera.

The Institution also includes school of Special Studies, and a residential music program of intensive study is offered to students on the verge of professional careers who audition for admittance into Chautauqua's schools of fine and performing arts.

The physical setting of the Institution defined its development as an assembly. The grounds are situated on the west shoreline of upper Chautauqua Lake. The early tent camp assembly gave way to cottages and rooming houses, and then hotels and eventually condominiums. But much of the pastoral summer retreat on the lake survives.

In 1973 the National Park Service recognized the institution's historic importance by adding it to the National Register of Historic Places. In 1989, the Department of the Interior designated it a National Historic Landmark District, consisting of most of the Institution property between NY 394, formerly NY 17J, the lake and (roughly) Lowell and North avenues.[2][3]

Institution programs

Summer admission to Chautauqua is by "gate ticket" which allows entrance into the grounds, use of Smith Memorial Library, use of public beaches and parks, and attendance at lectures and concerts. There is an additional charge for some courses, for films shown at the Chautauqua Cinema, for opera and theater tickets, and for use of the golf course and tennis courts.


Weekly programs

Programs offered during the week at Chatuauqua include a devotional service and a lecture on a social, political or academic issue in the morning, an afternoon lecture on a religious topic, and an evening program. This evening Amphitheater event may be a symphony concert by the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, a dance program by the Chautauqua Ballet Company, or a program by a special guest artist. During most weeks, there is at least one opportunity to catch an opera and a play, both put on by Chautauqua's resident summer companies. Operas are performed in English at Norton Hall, a 1930s era art deco structure. There are also regularly scheduled organ recitals on the Massey Memorial Organ, student recitals, master classes, forums, and seminars for the sophisticate.

A range of special studies courses in music, art, dance, drama and general topics are also offered. The Chautauqua Schools of Music offer extremely competitive programs on the basis of scholarship. George Gershwin visited Chautauqua as a summer refuge to compose parts of his Concerto in F in a small wooden piano studio and give its first public performance.

The 10:45 morning lecture program is one of the most distinctive features of the program at the Institution. The program for each week is built around a unifying theme, such as world events. Chautauqua has been visited by United States Presidents from Ulysses S. Grant to Bill Clinton, and by other prominent Americans including Booker T. Washington, Karl Menninger, Tom Ridge and, in 2006, Al Gore.[4] Franklin D. Roosevelt's historic "I hate war" speech was delivered from the podium in the Chautauqua Amphitheater (1936).[5]

Sundays at Chautauqua feature worship services, both denominational and ecumenical. There is an afternoon Amphitheater program, such as a military band or student dance program. On Sundays, entrance to the Institution grounds is free. Worship services are coordinated by the permanent Department of Religion staff.

Special events

There is a special program on the first Tuesday in August called "Old First Night". This is the "birthday party" for the Institution, marking the opening of the first season back in 1874.

Children's programs

One of the oldest day camps in the United States is the Chautauqua Boys and Girls Club, founded in 1893. The Children's School established in 1921, is a developmental preschool for youth ages 3–5, and was a pioneering program in the field of nursery school education. The program includes a social, recreational and educational activities which often incorporate other Chautauqua programs in the areas of music, drama and art.

Institution facilities

The Institution's grounds, located between New York State Route 394 and Chautauqua Lake, include public buildings (such as the 6,000-seat Amphitheater), administrative offices, a library, a movie theater, a bookstore, hotels, condominiums, inns, rooming houses, and many private cottages. There are about 400 year-round residents, but in the summer the population swells as many as 10,000 at any one time. The Institution is largely a pedestrian community, with bikes and scooters seen everywhere and a 12 mph speed limit for cars. There are several parking lots located on the periphery of the grounds.

Athenaeum Hotel

The Athenaeum Hotel on the grounds is the only hotel actually owned and operated by the Institution. The 156-room hotel, said to be the largest wooden building in the eastern United States, was built in the Second Empire style in 1881. It has a two story porch supported by narrow columns, with a central, mansard-covered tower.Athenaeum Hotel, Chautauqua Institution sample page in a coffee table book Although the number of hotel rooms has steadily declined on the grounds in the past thirty years, there has been a corresponding growth in condominiums. A supply of affordable housing remains a challenge on the grounds.

Palestine Park is a relief map of Palestine, showing the general contour of the area, including mountains, valleys, water-courses and cities.

Department of Religion

Chautauqua's Department of Religion provides a wide variety of services of worship and programs that express the Institution's Christian heritage and its interfaith commitment. It provides lectures and educational programs that probe contemporary religious and theological ideas.

The Department of Religion strives to create a climate in which people who cherish various points of view and beliefs can exchange ideas, discuss their differences, and ponder the significance of their diverse experiences and insights.

Chautauqua's impact on adult education

The Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle (CLSC), founded in 1878 by Bishop Vincent, is America's oldest continuously operating book club.[6] It was founded to promote self-learning and study, particularly among those unable to attend higher institutions of learning. Six to nine books are added to the reading list each year, with authors generally coming to Chautauqua to discuss their writing and to talk with readers.

The ideals of the Chautauqua Institution were spread throughout the United States through a number of Independent Chautauqua assemblies, and a series of traveling Circuit Chautauqua assemblies, incorporating many of the program components of the Institution, including lectures, music, nondenominational preaching, and a focus on current issues. Several Independent Chautauquas continue into the 21st century.

See also


External links


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