When the season changes from spring to summer, Chautauqua concerts and events are common activities for many Boulder County and Front Range residents. While the summer concert series was interrupted in 2020, the emerging events for 2021 are creating opportunities to re-visit this unique, regional treasure. As the Chautauqua approaches its 125th anniversary, we chose it for our customer spotlight.
Colorado Chautauqua was created in 1898 when Boulder was selected as a site to create a summer location for a school dedicated to teachers. The City of Boulder offered the land, several building facilities and required utilities to host the summer retreat. July 4, 1898 was the opening day, attended by thousands of people over the course of several weeks to participate in cultural and educational events.
Boulder’s facility owes its existence to The Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle, which was located near Chautauqua Lake in southwestern New York state and founded in 1874. Originally named the Chautauqua Lake Sunday School Assembly, the organization was as an educational experiment in out-of-school, vacation learning. It was popular and eventually expanded beyond courses for Sunday school teachers to include academic subjects, music, art, and physical education. The new locations, including Boulder were known as “Daughter Chautauquas,” giving rise to what was called the “Chautauqua Movement.”
Music became increasingly important at Chautauqua, especially after the turn of the century. Opera singers, instrumental groups performing contemporary music as well as nostalgic, ‘old county’ music was commonly performed.
Today, Colorado Chautauqua is one of a few remaining chautauquas in the United States and the only site west of the Mississippi that has been continually operating since its founding in the original structures as intended. The 40-acre site, the auditorium, dining hall and academic hall are owned by the City of Boulder. The Colorado Chautauqua Association owns the Community House, Mission House and the Columbine Lodge. Ninety-nine individual cottages are located on the property, with the majority also owned by the Colorado Chautauqua Association. Thirty-nine cottages are privately owned.
In 2021 the list of offered activities includes a variety of entertainment, concerts, movies, yoga classes, theater workshops, garden events and dining options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Beyond the site, 40+ miles of open space trails offer access to the Flatirons. Lodging in the cabins and Columbine lodge host extended stay visitors.
Western Disposal is proud to partner and provide waste, recycling and compost services to the extended campus. Liza Purvis, Chautauqua Director of Marketing and communications adds “Love of Nature is one of our original values at the Colorado Chautauqua and caring for our environment is a core strategic priority. Our team works tirelessly to create a new form of “sustainable high performance preservation” with the goal of Chautauqua becoming America’s greenest National Historic Landmark.”