The History of Chautauqua Bookstore, est. 1907

1953 Headline: Bookstore is Gathering Center For Cultural and Social Needs

Chautauquan Daily headline, August 13 1953

During the late 1800’s, in the early days of the Chautauqua Assembly (which later became Chautauqua Institution), books were sold on the grounds by dealers out of tents.  The first “Chautauqua Book Store” opened its doors on Palestine Avenue in 1879 as a summer branch of a Buffalo bookdealer.

The Chautauqua Bookstore of today began in 1907 as an offshoot of the Chautauqua Press.  Within two years, it outgrew its original location in The Arcade, and moved to the Colonnade.  Several years later, it relocated into the Newton Hall Museum.  In 1931 the Museum was torn down to make way for Smith Memorial Library, and the Chautauqua Bookstore moved to its present location.

Chautauqua Bookstore & employees circa 1930 Museum location photo by Harold Wagner

Chautauqua Bookstore & employees circa 1930, before the Bookstore moved from the Museum to the Post Office building.

The Chautauqua Bookstore found its new home in what had been the Chautauqua Press and Print Shop in the lower level of the Chautauqua Post Office Building.  From this location, the Bookstore has remained a Chautauqua fixture ever since.

Chautauqua Bookstore & employees in 1979 at Bookstore's current location

Chautauqua Bookstore & employees 1979, outside the Bookstore's present location.

Chautauqua Bookstore employees on the Plaza, 2018

Chautauqua Bookstore employees on Bestor Plaza in 2018.


Chautauqua Bookstore news counter, 1936 and 2018

Chautauqua Bookstore newscounter in the summers of 1936 and 2018.

Chautauqua Bookstore stacks year unknown (photo by Harold Wagner) and 2017

Chautauqua Bookstore stacks, year unknown (photo by Harold Wagner) and 2017


images taken from the Chautauquan Daily online archives and Bookstore scrapbook (including photos taken by Harold Wagner and unknown photographers)