Learn About the Fascinating Chautauqua Institution History

The Chautauqua Institution is an origination dedicated to providing continued learning and the arts both in our small community and nationwide. It seeks to spark discussion on the subjects most important to our lives, whether they are religious, social, or political. This dedication to education has remained consistent within the Institution since its founding in the late nineteenth-century. Learn about the Chautauqua Institution history and importance in our country.

After you’re done learning the Chautauqua Institution history, learn a little more about the Chautauqua area! Access our free Vacation Guide. Inside, we’ve listed our favorite restaurants, historic sites, museums, and hiking spots in the Chautauqua area. The Vacation Guide is mobile-friendly, so you’ll be able to access it from anywhere!

Chautauqua Institution History

The Chautauqua Institution was founded in 1874 by inventor Lewis Miller and Methodist Bishop John Heyl Vincent. It was initially named the Chautauqua Lake Sunday School Assembly. This perfectly represents the intersection of science and religion that has remained so crucial to the Institution since its beginning. It was originally intended as a teaching camp for Sunday-school teachers. Since its founding, the Institution has been in operation every summer, gradually growing in size, subject, and reach.

America’s First Book Club

In 1878, the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle was started to provide an education to those who may not have the money or time to attend college. It was originally a correspondence course, one of the first of its kind. Due to the budget restraints of many of the students, the participants were encouraged to create local CLSC reading circles. These circles are the first book clubs established in America. Here at The Spencer Hotel & Spa, we pay tribute to this important legacy with our literary-themed rooms.

This was an incredible opportunity for women who may not have otherwise been allowed to further their education, as well as students living in rural areas who didn’t have access to institutions of higher learning. It was through the CLSC’s success that the Chautauqua movement was spread across the United States and Canada.

History Has Been Made

While the Chautauqua Institution has always remained on the upper shoreline of Chautauqua Lake, the appearance of the facility has dramatically changed. Originally a tent-camp assembly, the grounds have transformed into hotels, inns, condominiums, and large lecture halls. The Institution was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 and the surrounding area was declared a National Historic Landmark District in 1989.

Stay at The Spencer Hotel & Spa

Now that you’re familiar with the Chautauqua Institution history, book your stay at The Spencer Hotel & Spa to become part of it. Our gorgeous Inn is conveniently located in the heart of the Institution, minutes away from the Chautauqua Institution lectures and concerts. Our literary-themed rooms are the perfect place to end a day of education and debate. Consider booking Brontes, a room that celebrates the Bronte sisters. The suite is modeled after the woods where the Brontes played as children in Yorkshire, England. The hand-painted walls and the exquisitely decorated room is the perfect complement to the luxurious furnishings. This room features a kitchenette and neo-angle shower.

Check our availability and book your room today! We look forward to having you.