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Letter: Chautauqua should retain building’s historic features

Chautauqua should retain building’s historic features

The News article, “Most of landmark Chautauqua Amphitheater would be torn down under plan for ‘safer and more comfortable’ replica,” summarized and added important information to the public discussion of proposed changes to this building located in a National Historic Landmark District.

As the project has unfolded, we have encouraged the institution to respect and retain the building’s historic features, given the amphitheater’s historic and architectural significance.

Unfortunately, demolition of the roof and ceiling would irrevocably damage the building’s historic integrity. The removal of key building elements in addition to the incremental alterations noted in the article make it clear that little of the historic fabric of the amphitheater will remain.

We understand that the amphitheater has evolved over time. Still, as a contributing building within a National Historic Landmark District, any work on the building should be guided by the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.

We strongly urge the Chautauqua Institution’s leaders to revisit these standards and reconsider some of the programming goals for the building. This property of national significance deserves judicious treatment.

Jay DiLorenzo

President, Preservation League

of New York State