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This book describes the idyllic setting of this delightful settlement on the shores of lovely Lake Chautauqua, and recounts the circumstances of its founding in 1875 as a Bible camp by a group of Baptist clerics and laymen. To design the new community, these early leaders demonstrated the extraordinary wisdom and foresight to engage the services of America's most eminent landscape architect of the 19th century.
Before his arrival at Point Chautauqua, Frederick Law Olmsted had already earned acclaim for his creation of Central Park in New York City and the Buffalo park system. Later, he was to design Brooklyn's Prospect Park, Boston's Emerald chain of parks, Berkeley and Stanford University campuses, the US Capitol grounds in Washington, and more than 300 other celebrated works.
The unusual life experiences that led Olmsted to become a creator of landscapes -- and which helped shape the famous Olmsted design principles -- provide a basis for understanding and appreciating the unique qualities that make Point Chautauqua such a relaxing and enjoyable place to live. As explained in this book, Olmsted's spirit has persisted throughout the various historic periods through which the community has passed: the Bible camp years of the 1870's and 1880's, the commercial pleasure-resort era from the late 19th century until after the Second World War, and the residential community of recent times. Each of these periods produced its own styles of architecture and building construction, which are well illustrated in the book by drawings and photographs.
The final chapters trace the events that led the US Department of Interior in 1996 to honor Olmsted's unique design for Point Chautauqua by listing it on the National Register of Historic Places. The story is told by Edgar C. Conkling, who first took up residence in Point Chautauqua over 25 years ago, and has lived there full-time for more than a decade.