Judge rules against preservation of Chautauqua Amphitheater

Feb 12, 2016

The days of the old Chautauqua Amphitheater are now numbered. A state Supreme Court Judge Thursday rejected a preservation group's legal moves to block demolition.

The summer of 2016 will be the last for the historic Chautauqua Amphitheater.
Credit WBFO News File Photo

Chautauqua Institution Chief Marketing Officer George Murphy says the 122-year-old structure is unsafe. More than $41 million has been raised for a modern amphitheater.

Administration officials worked to build a consensus decision before moving forward with the controversial demolition/replacement project.

"We met with over 2,500 Chautauquans over the summer," Murphy said.

After the group toured the Amphitheater and examined future requirements, Murphy believes the group was "a hundred percent behind a new facility."

The group The Committee to Preserve The Historic Chautauqua Amphitheater, which has been vocal in expressing its opposition to demolition, issued a statement Thursday calling the court's decision a "travesty."

"Had leadership of the Institution been truly interested in a solution that united the community, it would have explored preservation options openly and sincerely with experts and stakeholders. Instead a deeply divided community will get a $41.5 million structure devoid of the original Amp’s authenticity and history," the statement read, in part.

The statement goes on to say the institution board "misled and ignored the community" and that "Chautauqua deserves better."

Site preparation work should begin next week and the upcoming season will go on as planned. After the old amphitheater is demolished in the fall, the new facility will open in 2017.