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Niagara Falls
Friday, February 3, 2023
Exploring Photos with the NOTL Museum: The end of the Chautauqua Hotel

Further to last week’s photo on the Niagara Assembly establishing a Chautauqua movement in Niagara-on-the-Lake, here is an image of the three-storey Chautauqua Hotel. The Chautauqua program offered religious and educational courses for guests of varying ages, botany and drawing classes, concerts, swimming, tennis, lawn bowling, fishing, boating and croquet. The grounds also included a 4,000-seat amphitheatre in the middle of the grounds (within Circle Street today). Unfortunately, we have yet to find an image of the amphitheatre's exterior. Sadly, the movement's semi-religious atmosphere did not have the appeal that was expected. The hotel was purchased by the Niagara Syndicate around 1894, which ran the resort until the hotel burned in 1909. Guests had only minutes to escape, with some jumping from the balconies. It was believed that the fire started in the servants’ quarters in the basement from the explosion of a lamp one of the girls had been using to curl her hair. The damages were so significant that the owners decided not to rebuild. This marked the end of the Chautauqua movement in NOTL.

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