Local historian Flanders reflects on Chautauqua, shares stories


Beverly Hazen | Staff Writer

The Chautauqua Storytellers Ravine program, sponsored by the Bird, Tree & Garden Club, will take place at 4:15 p.m. today at the Roger Tory Peterson Nature Classroom. William Flanders, year-round Chautauqua resident, will share his memories and experiences of the Institution.

“I have known Chautauqua since I was a kid in first grade,” Flanders said. “All my life, except for college at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and military service in the army, I’ve been at Chautauqua.”

While he was a builder with his father from 1946 through the late ’80s, he learned quite a bit on the background of Chautauqua’s development and has witnessed it in more than one aspect.

Flanders has some interesting stories to share.

“Some stories have been handed down from people in earlier generations, plus other stories are from what I’ve experienced,” he said. “I will give a review of the development and have some humorous stories, like about the bell tower.”

Flanders will also give his thoughts about how Chautauqua has or hasn’t changed.

“I have an avid interest in local history,” he said, “and have co-authored a book with Jon Schmitz, Institution archivist and historian, that gives an inside look on Chautauqua from 1907 to 1920.”

The 2011 Postcard History Series book, Chautauqua Institution, is available at the Chautauqua Bookstore.

The Peterson classroom is located in the upper Ravine behind the Hall of Christ. The program’s rain location is Smith Wilkes Hall.