Amphitheater At Chautauqua Institution — Events Centerpiece

Did you know that a facility at Chautauqua Institution for holding large program events and services dates back to 1877? In that year, the pavilion was constructed on the site then known as Fair Point.

It consisted of a half-bowl of cleared land equipped with benches and a platform covered by the Tabernacle tent. This was the predecessor of the first Amphitheater which was constructed in 1879. Although this second facility was a significant improvement over the Pavilion, the several structural wooden posts blocked the view of many in the audience; and the flat roof was rather noisy in rainy weather. The second Amphitheater, constructed in 1893, was a truss-roofed structure supported by only 20 steel columns for better visibility and shorter wood pillars around the perimeter.

With prudent maintenance and periodic structural attention, this Amphitheater had a remarkably long life as the signature public event venue. However, as facility standards for performing arts and public accessibility have risen over the years, that structure saw its final season in 2016. It was replaced with a new Amphitheater — demolition and construction taking place during the short off-season of about nine months — which opened for the 2017 season. It looks remarkably similar to the former structure, but is equipped to modern technological standards.


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