Mount Dora, Florida – Chautauqua in the Wilderness


  • Harry J Schaleman, Jr.
  • Dewey M Stowers, Jr.


The Chautauqua movement, a broad program of adult continuing education, reached its zenith following the turn of the nineteenth century. Established in 1874 on Lake Chautauqua, New York, this Methodist-inspired idea spread quickly throughout the United States and later to Canada and England. Like its predecessor the lyceum movement, the program focused on scholarly discourse and intellectual stimulation in the arts and sciences. In camp-like settings, adults assembled for lectures, discussions, readings, elocutions, and musical, religious, and recreational programs, The Chautauqua movement became extremely popular, and by 1924 it was estimated that one of three people in the United States had exposure to the Chautauqua system. Spreading from its cradle of inception, the name and idea were carried nationwide to rural America as well as to the larger urban centers. Mount Dora, Florida, embraced the movement and became one of the 103 local Chautauqua sites in 1887.