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Chautauqua Auditorium

Waxahachie, Texas

 

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For in depth Chautauqua Information visit the web site below!

Waxahachie Chautauqua Web Site

Contains information on the Chautauqua Auditorium in Waxahachie, Texas as well as information on the Chautauqua Movement.


A Brief, Incomplete History of the Waxahachie Chautauqua

Compiled by Kirk Hunter and Maureen Moore

1874

1878

  • Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle (CLSC) organized as part of the Chautauqua Assembly in Chautauqua, New York.

1889

  • Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle (CLSC) organized in Waxahachie, with Miss Willia Getzendaner as president.

1899

  • Texas Synod of the Cumberland Presbyterian (C. P.) Church decides to move their Chautauqua Summer Assembly from Glen Rose for the 1900 Assembly. Waxahachie is one of several cities considered.
 
  • Rev. J.C. Smith, pastor of the C. P. Church, takes the challenge and leads the effort to bring the Chautauqua to Waxahachie. He takes a summer sabbatical to attend the Chautauqua Institution in Lake Chautauqua, N.Y. where he gains information which later enables him to lay the groundwork for Waxahachie’s Chautauqua.

 

  • Mr. T. A. Ferris of Waxahachie attends the Texas-Colorado Chautauqua Assembly in Boulder, CO to observe the effects on the community of having a Chautauqua Assembly.

 

  • The C. P. Church announces the 1900 Chautauqua Summer Assembly will be held in Waxahachie. The location was along the creek in West End Park in the newly developed West End Addition.

1900

  • Construction of a pavilion in the West End Park. Capacity around 1200.
  • Chautauqua Assembly held July 26 to Aug 6.
  • 75+ tents

1901

  • Pavilion enlarged. Seating capacity is around 2000.
  • Chautauqua Assembly held July 24 to Aug 5.
  • 135 tents
  • Decision made to construct a new, bigger auditorium.

1902

  • Waxahachie Chautauqua Park Association (WCPA) organized.
  • Land for a new Chautauqua Auditorium is assembled and conveyed to the WCPA through three deeds.
  • New Chautauqua auditorium constructed. The original pavilion is now used as a dining hall.
  • Chautauqua Assembly held July 22 to July 31.
  • 200 tents
  • Trinity University opens, the grounds being dedicated on the last day of the Chautauqua Assembly.

 

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1903

  • Chautauqua Assembly held July 21 to July 31.
  • Estimates of around 3000 in and around the auditorium.

1904

  • Chautauqua Assembly held. July 19 to July 29.
  • Reported as financially successful. Receipts, tent records and attendance are the largest of any previous Chautauqua session in Waxahachie.

1905

  • Chautauqua Assembly held. Dates unknown.
  • 200 tents, bigger than ever.

1906

  • Chautauqua Assembly held. Dates unknown.
  • C. P. Church united with the Presbyterian Church of the United States.
  • The WCPA had difficulty paying note for materials for building the auditorium. The park property of the WCPA was sold to a group of leading citizens headed by E. P. Hawkins to pay the debts.

1907

  • Chautauqua Assembly held. Dates unknown.
  • More popular than ever.

1908

  • Chautauqua Assembly held July 7to July 17.

1909

  • Chautauqua Assembly held July 20 to July 30.

1910

  • Chautauqua Assembly held July 19 to July 29.

1911

  • Chautauqua Assembly held. Dates unknown.
  • 2000+ attended one of the concerts.

1912

  • Chautauqua Assembly held July 4 to July 12.
  • Contracted with the Redpath-Horner Bureau circuit to provide the Chautauqua program. This was the first appearance of Redpath-Horner in Texas.

1913

  • Chautauqua Assembly held. Dates unknown.
  • Widow of Civil War General Pickett appeared on stage of the Chautauqua Auditorium. Over 3000 attended.
  • Texas Synod relinquishes control of Waxahachie Chautauqua to 54 citizens who agreed to underwrite its indebtedness.

1914

  • E. P. Hawkins conveyed the former WCPA park property to R. W. Getzendaner who then conveyed it, as a gift, to the City of Waxahachie for use as a park.
  • Chautauqua Assembly held June 26 to July 3.
  • Attendance light. Attributed to late crops and the early date for the Assembly.

1915

  • Changed format to an "agricultural" or farm Chautauqua as an experiment.
  • Chautauqua Assembly held August 9 to August 14.

1916 - 1918

  • Unknown

1919

  • Program provided once again by Redpath-Horner Bureau.
  • Scheduled to open June 11

1920-1927

  • Chautauqua Assembly held. Dates unknown.

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1928

  • Chautauqua Assembly held. Dates unknown.
  • Attendance very low. Doubted if Chautauqua would continue.

1929-1930

  • Chautauqua Assembly held. Dates unknown.

1971

  • Chautauqua Auditorium closed due to dilapidation. The city of Waxahachie considers tearing it down.
  • Efforts are made to save the Chautauqua Auditorium and the decision is made to restore it.
  • State historical marker obtained.

1974

  • Chautauqua Auditorium placed on National Register of Historic Places.
  • Waxahachie Chautauqua Auditorium restoration begins.
  • Josephine and Robert Ruskin (leaders of the Waxahachie Chautauqua Auditorium restoration effort) attend New York ("Mother") Chautauqua Institution during the celebration of its 100th anniversary.

1975

  • Waxahachie Chautauqua Auditorium restoration completed.
  • Restored Chautauqua Auditorium dedicated July 4.
  • Ticket office and pavilion built at the park (small-scale replica of the auditorium).

1999

  • Kirk Hunter and Maureen Moore attend New York ("Mother") Chautauqua Institution during the celebration of its 125th anniversary. They join the Chautauqua Network, a group of Chautauqua organizations from various parts of the U.S. where Chautauqua Assemblies are currently held.

2000

  • ???

2001

  • ???

2002

  • ???

Sources

  • Waxahachie Enterprise
  • Waxahachie Daily Light
  • Texas Heritage Lecture Series, Mrs. Josephine Ruskin, 1974.
  • Archives of the Chautauqua Institution, Chautauqua, NY
  • Chautauqua Network

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