Edith and Steve Benson’s Chautauqua cottage sits at 19 Wiley, surrounded by an aged picket fence. Pushing open the gate, walking under the arched trellis draped in akebia and along a short curved stone walkway dripping with yellow roses, blue Russian Sage and the hardy remnant of a purple clematis up to the Benson’s porch is akin to visiting a home from a bygone era.
The 1899 Chautauqua season lasted 60 days, the most since the Assembly’s beginning in 1874. It was the end of the 19th century. In an article titled “The New Chautauqua” John Heyl Vincent, Chautauqua co-founder, reflected on the first Assembly.
Chautauquans have been acquainted with Turner Community Center and its amenities for over a decade, from the community pool to the basketball court to the state-of-the-art exercise machines. Julie Monaco, though, has been familiar with the halls of Turner for much longer than most.
The end of the Chautauqua season is in the air. The cool nights. The sound of crickets. The anticipation of pumpkin spice lattes at Starbucks. And giants in the Heritage Lecture Series.
At 3:30 p.m. today in the Hall of Christ, Terry Foody will talk about “Infectious Disaster: The 1833 Cholera Epidemic with Implications for Our Global Health Today.” This lecture is part of the Oliver Archives Center Heritage Lecture Series.
John Denton looks down at 5-year old Caroline, who has just managed to pull off a second-long handstand near the playground. It’s his last day at Children’s School.
Riley Burton, sunny and full of giggles, sits on her bed in the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and flaunts one of her well-known grins. She takes a break from singing “Let it Go” from Disney’s “Frozen” to chat with pediatric oncologist Tracey Jubelirer. The pair talks about dolls and playing dress-up while the doctors run their tests and check her white blood cell count. Afterward, Riley colors a butterfly with a purple crayon, relaxed.
For Chautauquans, visitors and seasonal staff members, the end of Week Eight heralds the beginning of the end of the summer season. Six of these employees shared their stories with The Chautauquan Daily.
Chautauqua offered a rich and diversified program during the summer of 1898.
To some visitors, Chautauqua looks the same as it did the day it was born, a mind-boggling idea to someone who has ever slept in a tent. But change comes hard to Chautauquans steeped in generations-old tradition. And change it must.