Communities in Chautauqua County:
Mayville & Hartfield:
The village of Mayville, situated at the head of the lake, was settled in 1804. It was designated as the county seat in 1811, and the county courthouse and jail are still located here. It has some of the prettiest vistas of Chautauqua Lake as its lands slope gently to the shore. Hartfield, a hamlet near Mayville, is the home of local airport, Dart Field. Many Amish farmers reside in the area.
Point Chautauqua and Bemus Point:
Point Chautauqua was designed in 1875 by famed landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmstead, who is best remembered for his layout plan of New York’s Central Park and also the design of the grounds at the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina.
Bemus Point was settled in 1805, named after its first settler, William Bemus. Its first hotel was opened in 1871. Today, the Hotel Lenhart still invites summer guests to enjoy lake views from its open air porch with its colorful rockers.
Founded by James Prendergast in 1811, Jamestown soon became well known for its furniture industry, an outgrowth of lumbering. In 1888, Jamestown received its charter as a city of the state of NY. Historians can visit the Fenton Museum and History Center, named after Gov. Rueben E. Fenton. Jamestown is also home to the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center, Museum and gift store, the Robert H. Jackson Center for Justice, and the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History.
The “Lakeview Tract” was purchased by developers in 1874 and the land was subdivided into individual lots for summer cottages. Many of the cottages remain today, reflecting the architectural styles of the times with ornate wood carvings, porches and dormers. Renamed Lakewood in 1880, it is still a village of shaded avenues, lawns and homes.
The Chautauqua Institution:
Originally known as the Chautauqua Assembly in 1883, its purpose was “to promote the intellectual, social, physical, moral and religious welfare of the people”. The idea was to pursue knowledge in a setting that was unsurpassed in beauty. The modern Chautauqua Institution is an internationally recognized forum for the discussion of political and social issues as well as a center for the arts, entertainment and recreation.
First settled in 1802, the area is part of the oldest and largest Concord grape growing region in the U.S. outside of California. At one time it was the headquarters for Welch’s Grape Products. In the late 17th century, Barcelona Harbor was the site of a bustling fishing industry.
Incorporated in 1829, Fredonia is the home of the State University of New York (SUNY) at Fredonia, a
comprehensive, public, liberal arts college. The Fredonia Opera House, ca. 1891, is the county’s only year round performing arts center, featuring music, dance, theatre and film.
The Chautauqua County Fair Grounds are located in Dunkirk where the County Fair is held each year. This year America’s Grape Country Wine festival will be held at the Fair Grounds in August. Located by the shores of Lake Erie, in the northern part of the county, it is also the home of Dunkirk Harbor, the Dunkirk Lighthouse, and the Dunkirk Historical Museum.
Called the City of Light, Lily Dale Assembly is world renown as the largest spiritualist community. Its season runs from late June until early September. Daily public clairvoyance, healing services, workshops and lectures are featured. Located off Route 60, near the village of Cassadaga, on the shores of Cassadaga Lake.
The Village of Findley Lake is located in the most western corner of Chautauqua County, being only one mile from the PA/NY state line. Year round activities include golf, boating, fishing, snowmobiling and skiing. At nearby Peek’n Peak Resort and Spa, there are accommodations at the Inn, conference and wedding facilities, dining, and many outdoor activities such as skiing and summertime golf.