Amphitheater Should Receive Same Treatment

To The Reader’s Forum:

Who is Chautauqua’s John Shedd kidding? Asked why the Chautauqua Institution has gone to such great lengths to restore the Massey organ (“Iconic Massey Memorial Organ Ready for the Season”), he said: “The organ has become part of the environment and attracts people to the grounds by its mere presence.” But if that’s the criteria for restoring an organ, what about the historic Amphitheater, which actually was a national historic landmark designed by its co-founder Lewis Miller where great movements in our nation’s history gained traction and our finest cultural artists once performed that attracted visitors from around the world? Why then tear it down only to build a soulless replica that cost $10 to $20 million more than simply restoring and updating it?

The only answer is that the Institution puts a greater value on objects, especially those honoring the vanity of its deep-pocketed donors, than on historically significant structures. And for an institution as deeply rooted in the arts and culture as Chautauqua, that’s both insulting and sad.

Brian J. Berg



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