All About Lakeside

Many families are searching for a vacation destination to rest, renew and reconnect. For nearly 150 years, Lakeside Chautauqua has welcomed all ages to take part in a Chautauqua experience dedicated to nurturing mind, body and spirit. The experience is a step back in time to a place where values, traditions and family remain the focus.  Watch the WGTE Premiere about Lakeside’s history.  

A Year-Round Escape

Lakeside Chautauqua is a historic community on Lake Erie that offers cultural, intellectual, spiritual and physical learning opportunities in the summer. Quaint shopping, unique restaurants and a variety of accommodations complete the experience. You can also retreat to Lakeside during the peaceful months of fall, winter and spring.

It’s our mission to enrich the quality of life for all people, to foster traditional Christian values and to nurture relationships through opportunities for renewal and growth – spiritually, intellectually, culturally and physically – while preserving Lakeside’s heritage.

Live the Lakeside Experience

Visiting Lakeside is a unique experience for each person. We invite you to experience our Chautauqua community in your own way; reconnect with family, grow spiritually, expand intellectually, unleash your creativity or challenge yourself physically.

The opportunities are endless. You’ll soon realize why Lakeside has remained an annual tradition for generations.

Support the Mission

Lakeside Chautauqua is a nonprofit organization that relies on the generosity of families, friends, volunteers and its dedicated staff. Our Chautauqua programming and upkeep of the facilities and grounds are made possible through the philanthropic support of generous Lakesiders like you supporting the Lakeside Impact Fund.

There are countless ways you can help make a difference. We invite you to support Lakeside by giving a financial gift, volunteering your time, sharing the experience with a friend, planning a legacy gift for the future or joining the Endowment for Life Initiative.

To learn more about supporting Lakeside, visit or contact 419-798-4461, ext. 246. We’re truly thankful for your continued generosity!

Visit the Chautauqua Trail

Lakeside was among the first communities founded as part of the Chautauqua Movement in North America, a cultural and educational movement that flourished during the 19th and 20th centuries. At the height of its existence, the movement attracted millions to hear preachers, educators, explorers, scientists, politicians and entertainers.

Today, Lakeside thrives as one of the few Chautauqua communities in North America, offering a place for all people to grow – spiritually, intellectually, culturally and physically.

Many people are discovering that lifelong learning is essential to living a happy and fulfilling life. As the demand for an authentic, cultural experience grows, Chautauqua communities across North America are thriving.

The Chautauqua Movement holds a respected place in North American history, and Lakeside Chautauqua remains a leader of this cultural phenomenon. We invite you to explore the Chautauqua Trail with your family. For more information, visit

Our History

The Lakeside Story

On a warm August day in 1873, a group of Methodist preachers unloaded axes and shovels to begin clearing a tract of land near Lakeside’s present-day Central Park. They built a podium, plank benches and several platforms of stone upon which fires would light the meetings to come. On the edge of the clearing, tents provided shelter for preachers and their families. People from the surrounding countryside arrived on foot and in wagons, for Lakeside’s first public event. It was an old-fashioned camp meeting revival with rousing hymns and preachings that matched the surrounding bonfires.

Lakeside’s official history began under the sponsorship of the Central Ohio Conference of the Methodist Church. Among the early organizers and financial backers were Alexander Clemons, the patriarch of one of the peninsula’s leading families; the Rev. Richard P. Duvall, a local Methodist minister and ex-missionary; B. H. Jacobs, an immigrant from Denmark, civil war veteran and Port Clinton store owner; and 27-year-old Samuel R. Gill who had grown up on the peninsula.

For the rest of the summer of 1873 and the next, revivals continued and the crowds grew. Methodists predominated, but other denominations were present and welcomed. A large shelter with a permanent roof and open sides was built near the site of today’s Hoover Auditorium. Members of the German-speaking Methodist Church joined in 1874 and would eventually build their own auditorium for programs. That building still stands today as South Auditorium.

A few cottages were built overlooking Lake Erie, while the tents multiplied. Sanitation was basic and beds were not much more than piles of straw covered with quilts and blankets. Cooking was usually done outdoors. Permanent wooden tent frames soon became cottages. Increasing crowds demanded more comfort and in May of 1875 the first unit of the Hotel Lakeside was built.

The Chautauqua Movement

Meanwhile in 1874, an Akron, Ohio manufacturer, Lewis Miller, and John Heyl Vincent, a Methodist minister, founded the Chautauqua Institution at Lake Chautauqua, New York. While its initial mission was to train Sunday school teachers, the Chautauqua venture soon expanded into a summertime center for adult education and cultural enrichment.

That powerful notion — a faith-based summer resort offering both religious and secular education — was to blossom into the Chautauqua Movement. By the early 1900s, more than 300 Chautauqua-style resorts associated with various Christian and Jewish congregations had been established from New Jersey to California.

The word Chautauqua became, and is today, the generic descriptive term for resorts that blend the summer season with religion, education, cultural arts and recreation. Most Chautauqua communities shared similar financial arrangements combining donations with admission fees. The fee entitled the guest to most, if not all, the organization’s programming.

The growing Chautauqua Movement was a natural fit for Lakeside. Its first Sunday school training sessions were held in 1877, which blossomed into a robust Chautauqua program full of religion, education, cultural arts and recreation opportunities during the 1890s. Those same four founding elements, or Chautauqua pillars, remain in place at Lakeside Chautauqua today.

Chautauqua Pillars

Lakeside’s spiritual roots have remained strong throughout its long history. The early revivals and bible studies evolved into our modern program of Sunday worship, study groups and evening praise and prayer along the Lake Erie shore. Clergy and musicians of all faiths continue to inspire and guide Lakeside audiences with both traditional and contemporary services.

Lakeside continues its educational tradition with lectures ranging from health and wellness, history, music appreciation and much more. At a time when music and arts education is being eclipsed in American schools, our Fun with Music program for children and the C. Kirk Rhein, Jr., Center for the Living Arts offer a wonderful summertime alternative for all ages.

Educators from around the world have spoken at Lakeside, including Jane Adams, Susan B. Anthony, Gov. William McKinley, Speaker of the House Champ Clark, Amelia Earhart, Eleanor Roosevelt, J.C. Penney, Lowell Thomas and Drew Pearson.

Sometimes the famous just dropped by for a visit. In the 1870s, President Ulysses S. Grant joined fellow Civil War veterans in an annual reunion. President Rutherford B. Hayes was a guest at the Hotel Lakeside in 1891. With lights blazing in 1933, the Graf Zeppelin, predecessor of the ill-fated German dirigible Hindenberg, cruised over Lakeside on its way to the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair.

Cultural offerings have expanded exponentially throughout the years to include all varieties of arts and entertainment. Performers Victor Borge, Ray Charles, America, Capitol Steps, Peter Noone, Kathy Mattea, Melissa Manchester and Amy Grant have all graced Lakeside’s various stages.

21st Century Chautauqua

In our fast-paced world full of modern conveniences, many families are searching for a unique destination to rest, renew and reconnect with loved ones.

Families gather for vacation, often times with an eye or an ear connected to life outside the gates with work or other responsibilities.

Parents and grandparents alike relax knowing that the children are safe and happy, and have plenty to do, see and hear each day. Lakesiders come from as far away as Australia and as nearby as Sandusky and Port Clinton to participate in the summer Chautauqua program. They stay for a day, weekend, week or the entire summer. There is also a growing number that live on the grounds year-round.

Lakeside Chautauqua is a unique experience for each individual. We invite you to experience our Chautauqua community in your own way; reconnect with family, grow spiritually, expand intellectually, unleash your creativity or challenge yourself physically. The opportunities are endless. You will soon realize why Lakeside Chautauqua has remained an annual tradition for generations of families.

Excerpts taken from content provided by William Jeffras Dieterich,The Story of Lakeside by O. L. Shepard and This is Lakeside 1873-1973, by James Allen Kestle. Books published by the Lakeside Heritage Society. Photos provided by the Lakeside Heritage Society Museum & Archives.

View the Calendar of Events

Learn about the Chautauqua Experience before you visit and plan to participate in the summer enrichment.