Former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt lectured here in 1905 and he commented, "Chautauqua is the most American thing in America." Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered his famous,
"I Hate War" speech here in 1936.
I've visited this lovely place on the shores of Chautauqua Lake in southwestern New York State several times, and I'm still blown away by what it has to offer. Chautauqua is a 317 hectare (783 acre) educational centre with up to 7,500 people in residence on any given day during a nine-week session from June 27th - August 25th. About 150,000 attend scheduled myriad public events.
Founded in 1874, it was originally a Sunday School Assembly, an experiment in out-of-school vacation learning. Well, it worked! Today, it has established itself as a national forum for open discussions of public issues, international relations, literature, music, the arts, religion and science.
In addition to forums, the
Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra performs thrice weekly in the outdoor Amphitheatre. On other nights, big name entertainers take to the stage.
Lectures in the 5,000 outdoor seat auditorium appeal to a wide variety of people. When you're not at the amphitheatre, stroll the tree-lined grounds of this eclectic, gated community and soak up the peace and quiet. There's a village green, consisting of a book store, post office, library, Refectory Restaurant and quirky shops. Don't be surprised to see a group of musicians rehearsing chamber music on the lawn. You can also enjoy a vigorous game of tennis, a round of golf or chill out on the sandy beach. Amidst the attractive architecture, this is an ecumenical home to 20 religious denominations that offers 9:15 am worship services for people of all faiths. It really is a place of peace.
The historic Athenaeum Hotel has been serving guests here since 1881, and it offers the gracious warmth of days past. This hotel operates on the all-inclusive American plan.
The grounds of Chautauqua Institution are open free of charge for 10 months of the year. However, during the nine-week summer program season there is a gate fee. Automobile traffic is limited, for it becomes a walking community. Gates open daily 7 a.m. to midnight. And the average daily pass, which includes lectures in the amphitheatre, is $33.00 U.S. From noon until 8 p.m., without amphitheatre performances, the gate fee is $8.00. There are several different rates for various times of the day. Parking is $8.00.
George Bailey contributes to Sun Media's 43 paid-circulation newspapers across Canada as well as numerous magazines. George has appeared on CNN, Good Morning America, Canada AM, the Discovery Channel, and Live with Regis and Cathy Lee. He has published five books on Niagara Falls.