What is now called Chautauqua building was built as a cookhouse to feed the hundreds of hungry patrons who attended the annual Rockville Chautauqua. This pagoda style structure was built in 1911 at Beechwood Park on the Southwest corner of town. It has accommodated the appetites of such notables as Rev. Billy Sunday, Williams Jennings Bryan, and former President William Howard Taft.
A Chautauqua was an organization combining education, recreation, and religion. It took its name from Chautauqua Lake in New York, where the first meeting was held in 1874. These were commercial ventures, which during the summer months provided three-to-seven-day programs in circus tents for residents of small towns across the country. The programs emphasized popular lecturers, music, and dramatic entertainment. With the coming of the motion picture, the mass production of the automobile and the radio, their popularity declined rapidly. The original Chautauqua Pavilion still stands today at the center of the fore mentioned Beechwood park.
Refurbished in 2022.