THE “ALL THINGS” OF LIFE
The Chautauqua movement, a nineteenth century embracement of “the ‘all things’ of life” (meaning science, nature, religion, education, etc.), arrived in Waxahachie in 1900 with the first Chautauqua Summer Encampment and Assembly, held between July 26th and August 6th. Over 1500 attendees participated in the non-denominational assembly, enjoying a line-up of inspirational presentations and musical entertainment. The enthusiastic response (and number of attendees) suggested to organizers that a new auditorium was in order and local architect and builder E. S. Boze was hired to construct a 2500-seat auditorium. The octagonal-roofed platform was outfitted with wooden windows that slid upward to create a shaded, open air structure and was completed in time for the second annual Chautauqua assembly that took place in 1902. The Chautauqua Auditorium enjoyed a long run as center for lectures, concerts, and performances, peaking in the 1930’s before submitting to a long, slow decline. Built entirely of wood, the structure suffered deterioration, including termite damage, until efforts to restore it began in the 1970s. Today, the beautifully restored structure, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, continues to serve the Waxahachie community, inspiring citizens with history, demonstrations, and song.