The Chautauqua Catholic Community

at the

Chautauqua Institution


On this HISTORY page we plan to showcase once each month some historical photos of Chautauqua.  Along with the photos will be appropriate commentary by Lydia Chaverin McKenzie, a life-long Chautauquan and daughter of Lee and the late Carl Chaverin who were among the founding members of the CCC .  Lydia offers these in her father's memory.

 Picture Ca.1876: At the first Sunday School Assembly in 1874, the benches that faced the Speaker's Stand had no backs--listeners had to supply their own

These days, to get to the Children's Beach or the Bell Tower, we walk down Vincent Avenue hill past Miller Cottage, and take the path through Miller Park. But in 1874 and for several years after that, you would have had to make your way through "The Auditorium" as part of the journey. Once you passed Lewis Miller's then newly-built house facing a lovely grove of trees on level ground, you would have negotiated around a small, roofed wooden Speaker's Stand, and then through rows of benches that could seat perhaps 2000 eager souls among the trees. In those early days, presenters on the stand had the benefit of shelter from the sun and the rain; their listeners were not as fortunate. A sudden shower could cause a thousand umbrellas, like toadstools, to sprout in less then a minute. Nighttime meetings were lit by pitch torches on tall poles scattered among the benches. Imagine how speakers' voices would have had to project to reach 2000 people in what we know today as Miller Park!

Next: a ravine becomes a natural auditorium                                                             
By Lydia Chaverin McKenzie
in memory of Carl Lander Chaverin

It was August,1874, and one of the first features to greet attendees of the inaugural Sunday School Assembly at Fair Point on Lake Chautauqua was the scale Model of Palestine. It was located just steps from the steamship landing on the point, the only way to get to Fair Point as there was no road entrance. Co-founder Rev. John Heyl Vincent's vision was to illustrate Holy Land and Bible history by allowing visitors to 'walk in the footsteps' of the prophets, the saints and of Jesus. Dr. Wythe of Meadville built the first Model ofPalestine out of tree stumps, scrap timber and sawdust from a Mayville mill. Within a few years of that first two-week session, the Assembly's name was changed to Chautauqua, and its scope had expanded beyond Sunday School teaching instruction to include general education and entertainment. Palestine Park, as it is known today, has been rebuilt and expanded several times over the years, but it still brings Bible history to life.                                                

Dedicated to the memory of                     
Carl Lander Chaverin

Lydia Chaverin McKenzie                          

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