A letter dated Feb. 19, 1917, between the Central Community Chautauqua System, based in Indianapolis, and Grove City’s first Chamber of Commerce indicated planning for a Chautauqua in town.
P. N. Windsor and H. G. Grossman appeared to be the two individuals who got the initial program started. By May, O. H. Corzilius had been acting as secretary of the local Chautauqua Committee. He received promotional posters, tickets and was told the first “advance man” would arrive in Grove City 28 days before the local event.
According to another letter dated June 16, Corzilius was told the performance crew would be traveling here from Cave City, KY. Named after Chautauqua Lake, NY, where the first was held, the performances spread through all of rural America until the mid-1920s.
The programs included entertainment and culture including numerous speakers, a concert band, a trio playing a harp, violin and clarinet, a six-piece all female band and the Imperial Russian ‘Quartertte’.
The development of the Chautauqua programs would not have been possible without the railroads. Organizers relied heavily on rail lines to reach into the rural communities. The Midwest was the primary market for the programs but with success came expansion into other areas of the country.
Little else is known about the Grove City event other than the fact that the Chamber invested $53.43. Some of the interesting expenses included:
· Two loads of sawdust for the Chautauqua tent provided by D. C. Lawless, proprietor of the Daisy Confectionery and Restaurant in Grove City. His fee was $7;
· Grove City Village Schools rented a piano to the Chamber for $5;
· Columbus Railway Power and Light set a transformer for $3 and billed $14.08 for electricity;
· A. G. Grossman Garage sold the Chamber five gallons of gasoline for $1.25;
· Rental of 97 chairs for $4.85.
· And other miscellaneous expenses.
The local committee, as best as can be determined, included Charles White, O. H. Corzilius, Otto Willert, M. Johnston, P. N. Windsor, A. G. Grossman and D. C. Lawless.
Story by James F. Hale