The history of Newton Hall is a potpourri. It mixes the story of an archaeological museum dedicated to Middle Eastern/Holy Land artifacts, the biography of Chautauquan Augustus O. Van Lennep, and a mystery which remains unsolved today.
For those who know it, Chautauqua Lake can get busy in both summer and winter, the water and ice providing a welcome medium for activities of many kinds. But rarely do those who know the lake see the kind of busy that Chautauqua Lake welcomed on Oct. 16, 1879.
HAROLD WAGNER | Courtesy of the Chautauqua Institution Archives Chautauqua dignitaries gather at the Norton Hall Cornerstone laying ceremony Aug.
Writing the “Women Behind the Memorials” column this season, I relearned that history is not tidy. It is sprawling, unexpected, and a singular incident bumped into me in an almost — dare I say it — ghostly way.
There are three observations, among many, gleaned from reading The Chautauquan Daily reporting of Eleanor Roosevelt’s eight visits to Chautauqua from 1927-1937. First: how farsighted her concerns and comments were, particularly in the July 7, 1930, and the July 25, 1933, speeches. Second: the reporting, which inadvertently describes the contrast in the freedom of movement Roosevelt enjoyed to the impenetrable gauze of security which wraps national political figures today. Third: how vivid and observant the reporting was, especially Elizabeth Hall’s July 26, 1933, Daily “Ground Wires” column.
Geraldine Gebbie Bellinger bought Chautauqua’s Amphitheater in 1935. Well, to be precise, she joined her daughter, Janet, and sister, Marion Bertram Gebbie, and made a $5,000 sentimental purchase of the Amp. It was a donation to the “Save Chautauqua Fund” and was one of the larger single contributions to the three-year effort to rescue the Institution from its creditors.
Anna J. Hardwicke Pennybacker signed her 1936 letter to John D. Rockefeller Jr., “I am, most faithfully yours, Anna J. H. Pennybacker.”
Memorials do work. In 1966, Nina Terrill Wensley gave the Windsor Boarding House to the Institution to be used as a guest cottage.
Of the many sources of uplift, satisfaction and peace at Chautauqua Institution are the denominational houses, which were started as home bases for identity groups and affordable lodging for people coming to Chautauqua for a short period of time.
What goes up must come down, so goes the saying. But in matters as complex as human life or, say, Chautauqua Institution, it may be better described as rising and declining. In talking about the Institution, Jon Schmitz, Chautauqua archivist and historian, will add resurgence to his 3:30 p.m. lecture today in the Hall of Christ.