Waxahachie Chautauqua Building

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    The historic Chautauqua Building in Waxahachie, Texas, according to the website from the Preservation Society:

    In 1901, it became obvious to the organizers of the Waxahachie Chautauqua that the newly erected pavilion in West End Park could not accommodate the throngs of people attending the Chautauqua programs at the Summer Assemblies.

    And so, on August 9, 1901, a group of citizens met in the District Courtroom of the Ellis County Courthouse and decided to build a new 2500-seat new auditorium in the park. It is unclear who was responsible for the octagonal building’s unusual design. Many believe that the structure was planned to resemble a tent, but it seems more likely that it is a copy of the original octagonal roofed platform of the open-air auditorium at the Chautauqua Institution in New York.

    E.S. Boze, a local contractor and architect, was in charge of the project. Although construction did not begin until June 1902, the large and impressive building was completed in time for the Summer Assembly held July 22-31, 1902. The cost of construction was $2750

    Built entirely of wood, the Waxahachie auditorium had large “wooden windows” which would slide upward into the upper portion of the walls, making an open-air structure. The stage, with dressing rooms below, was inset in the south side of the building. A large water tank was erected near the auditorium to furnish drinking water. Electric lights were installed. Plans to gravel the floor near the stage gave way to “planking” the entire floor.

    "Chautauqua Institution cofounder John Vincent said “Chautauqua is an idea, embracing the ‘all things’ of life - art, science, society, religion, patriotism, education – whatsoever tends to enlarge, refine, and ennoble the individual.” He wrote that it was the aim of Chautauqua “to take people on all sides of their natures and make them new, more intelligent and thoughtful in a world of ideas.” (The Chautauquan, Fall 1999)"

    Learn more about this unique time in America's history, when the Chautauqua circuit provided the general population with information and education: www.waxahachiechautauqua.org/

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