Chautauqua Institution was founded in 1874 by inventor Lewis Miller and Methodist Bishop John Heyl Vincentas a teaching camp for Sunday school teachers. The teachers would disembark atPalestine Park, and begin a course of Bible study that used the Park to teach of the geography of the Holy Land.
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, opera and visual arts exhibitions.
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.
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19 Ivy Street
Jamestown, NY 14701
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