The Landmark Society of Western New York is urging the Chautauqua Institution to modernize the historic Amphitheater without demolishing most of the structure to do so.
In a letter to James A. Pardo, Chautauqua’s board chairman, the preservation organization called for revamping the National Historic Landmark by following accepted federal rehabilitation standards. The Landmark Society said it understands the need to update the historic theater, but that it should be done in a way that left the building’s historic integrity intact.
“The current proposal to demolish the bulk of the historic Amphitheater and replace it with a modern replica is simply not in keeping with established and accepted preservation standards. For such a revered historic site to engage in active demolition of a historic structure is disappointing and alarming,” wrote Wayne Goodman, the Landmark Society’s executive director.
Chautauqua Institution is planning a $30 million overhaul of the 121-year-old outdoor theater, including extensive demolition, next fall. Speakers there have included Susan B. Anthony, Booker T. Washington, Amelia Earhart, Robert F. Kennedy and numerous United States presidents.