How I Spend My Summer Vacation: The Joys of Chautauqua Institution

Chautauqua logoSome of you have asked about the place where I spend my summers, so today a photo essay.

Chautauqua Institution, in Chautauqua, NY,was founded in 1874 as the Chautauqua Lake Sunday School Assembly, an experiment in out-of-school learning. Although the Assembly was founded by Methodists, other denominations participated from the beginning. Now the Institution is an ecumenical and spiritual center for many faiths.

The website defines the essence this way: “The Chautauqua Institution is a not-for-profit, 750-acre educational center beside Chautauqua Lake in southwestern New York State, where approximately 7,500 persons are in residence on any day during a nine-week season, and a total of over 142,000 attend scheduled public events. Over 8,000 students enroll annually in the Chautauqua Summer Schools which offer courses in art, music, dance, theater, writing skills and a wide variety of special interests.”

My husband and I began visiting regularly in the early 1990s. We bought our cottage (circa 1895)  several years ago, a dream we hadn’t expected to come true. This past year we’ve done extensive renovations to bring her into the 21st century, and I’ll share photos of the finished product soon.

Meantime, though, here are a few photos of some of my favorite Chautauqua scenes. Chautauqua is a visual treat, and I’m delighted to share a bit with you.

Chautauqua has lots of different architectural styles, but the original Victorian era houses are some of the most charming. Here’s one not far from our cottage.

Gingerbread House with frame smaller

The bell in Miller Tower chimes four times each hour, and the tower is a welcome landmark to people returning for the summer. Steamboats used to dock here bringing passengers, but these days the lake itself is used primarily for recreation.

Bell Tower with frame

The Athenaeum Hotel has welcomed visitors since 1881. The Athenaeum was one of the first hotels to have electric lights, and Thomas Edison himself married the daughter of one of the Institution’s founders and was a frequent resident.

Athenaeum Hotel Framed Smaller

Chautauqua is such a busy place in the evenings, with concerts and other entertainment in the Amphitheater we rarely walk down to the lake to see the sunset, but one night last summer my husband captured this with his new camera. The end of a wonderful Chautauqua day.

Lake Chautauqua at dusk framed


  1. Dee Winter on June 18, 2013 at 10:27 am

    Beautiful, restful looking place. I know that is an oxymoron right now, but progress is noisy. Looking forward to the after pictures. Makes you really appreciate what you’re doing in the house when you live in the mess!

  2. QuiltinGram on June 18, 2013 at 10:58 am

    Looks like a spectacular relaxing place to spend summers and make memories!

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