From the gingerbread Victorian architecture of the central campus to the idyllic shores of Lake Michigan’s Little Traverse Bay, the Bay View Chautauqua takes visitors on a journey back in time. More than 440 picturesque cottages and over 30 public buildings nestle under a canopy of trees that shade the streets and flower-rimmed lanes. Many of these cottages have been in the same families for generations. The site is on the National Historic Register.
The Bells of Bay View call the cottagers to daily programs—organized around the Four Chautauqua Pillars: Education, Religion, Performing Arts and Recreation. (Photos at right): Behind the Bell Tower on the main campus stands one of the classroom buildings, Evelyn Hall,considered one of the best examples of Queen Anne architecture in America. (At left: Loud Hall, another classroom building). The Education Pillar is represented by a rich catalog of courses ranging from arts and crafts to yoga and physical wellness, creative activities for children, to political issues and literature. Many of these learning opportunities draw on the expertise of community members who are also respected leaders within their home, academic or business communities. The Woman’s Council and Campus Club offer additional weekly educational programs throughout the summer season.
The Performing Arts Pillar revolves around the Bay View Music Festival, a 10-week summer session during which the community comes alive with chamber and pops concerts, dance programs, as well as a musical and staged opera performance. Students and faculty travel from all over the world to participate. There are exciting performances by outside musical groups and Master Classes, all of which are open to the public. Special youth and children’s concerts, Rock at the Rec and other musical events encourage involvement by the whole family. Sunday night vespers are also part of the Bay View Festival program.
From sailboat races, to tennis tournaments and a beloved toddler-to-teen day camp known as “Club”, the Recreation Pillar is a family affair. Daily crafts and an annual Club Olympics are highlights of the summer recreational season for youngsters.The waterfront offers swim instruction. A teen club meets regularly at the beach Rec Club for social activities. The Campus Club provides fellowship and team activities not just for seniors, but participants of all ages. Porch rocking with a good book or visiting with friends and neighbors contributes to the well-balanced lifestyle.
Religious life is at the spiritual heart of the Four Pillars with daily ‘faith and life’ lectures that draw outstanding speakers, preachers and theologians to the community. Sunday Assembly in Hall Auditorium brings together thousands of attendees in the course of a summer. Outreach activities like the annual Crop Walk and work days at the area food banks draw strong support from Bay Vieew residents. A Festival Choir made up of volunteers from Bay View and the surrounding community sings regularly at Sunday evening vesper concerts. A community gardening team maintains the lovely Bay View Memorial Garden, a living bayside tribute along the bay shore to loved ones, neighbors and friends who shared a deep love for the community.
The community maintains a public library and hosts both Family and Foreign Film Festivals. Special events such as Illumination Night and July 4th festivities enrich community life throughout the 10-week assembly season.
From May through October, the Four Pillars of Chautauqua— EDUCATION, RELIGION, PERFORMING ARTS AND RECREATION—continue to define what it means to live in community in this beautiful, historic setting on Lake Michigan’s Little Traverse Bay.