Situated in Boulder, Colorado, the Colorado Chautauqua is one of the Chautauquas that continues to operate in the United States. It is also the only Chautauqua located west of the Mississippi River. It began in 1898 and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 2006. It is governed by the 501 (c) (3) Colorado Chautauqua Association.
Formerly called the Texas-Colorado Chautauqua Association, the Colorado Chautauqua Association presents a wide variety of live musical performances, silent films and lectures year-round, with emphasis on the summer months. It operates the Chautauqua Dining Hall, and offers short-term lodging.
The association operates 26-acre land leased from the Boulder city. This includes the landmark Chautauqua buildings, namely the 1898 Chautauqua Auditorium (listed on the National Register of Historic Places), the 1898 Dining Hall, the 1900 Academic Hall, the 1911 Missions House, the 1918 Community House, the 1919 Columbine House, as well as 98 cottages.
The 14-acre Chautauqua Park lies between the 26-acre of Association land and Baseline Road. Both the Association Land and the park are open to the public for free. The 40-acre site, which includes the park and the Association Land, became a National Historic Landmark in 2006. This site is bordered by Baseline Road on the north, residential backyards on 10th Street on the northeast, and City of Boulder Mountain on the west, south and southeast. During the early years, this site was referred to as the Texado Park.
The Colorado Chautauqua’s history dates back in 1897, with the incorporation of the Texas-Colorado Chautauqua Association aimed at conducting lecture series and summer school for schoolteachers in Texas at a certain location in Colorado. The association and the Boulder City reached an agreement in 1898 to find the Chautauqua near the city of Boulder. Later, the Texado Park, Chautauqua Auditorium and Dining Hall were constructed. In 1899, the first cottages were built.
The Colorado Chautauqua saw continued growth during the early years of the 20th century. During its first two decades, 40 full evening musical shows were presented every season. Two to three motion pictures had been shown yearly since its onset. In 1918, the association planned to increase the number of films due to higher costs for entertainers and lecturers.
The Chautauqua saw declines in revenue and attendance during the 1970s but managed to recover in the late 20th century. It has now become a permanent piece of Boulder and a part of living history.