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Welcome to the United Methodist House, one of the denominational houses at the Chautauqua Institution in southwestern New York state. The House is located at 14 Pratt Avenue on the Chautauqua grounds, just across from the famous Amphitheater.

During the nine-week Chautauqua season, it is a center for worship, fellowship, and learning. The spacious porch, parlors, quiet Chapel and Memorial Garden make an inviting and comfortable place for rest, refreshment and conversation. The resident hostess and host coordinate the many events that take place at the House and welcome weekly guests to their rooms.

During the “off” season — the other 43 weeks of the year — the United Methodist House is available as a retreat and renewal center for individuals, families, and church groups.



    The Annual Meeting date has been changed! There is a conflict with the Jurisdictional Conference being held the same week.

    NEW DAY: July 17, 2024

    TIMES:      3 pm Board Meeting

                      4 pm Annual Meeting

     POTLUCK MEAL  to follow the meetings

  • 25 Years by Nancy Richards

    Twenty-five years ago, hundreds of supporters and donors crowded onto the UM House porch to join in the dedication of our newly remodeled and improved historic property! It was a hot day and Dr. Doupe and his wife, Beverly, started filling the punch bowl on the porch early to satisfy the thirsty guests....and they refilled it over and over again all afternoon!

    The house had been modified for the 100th Anniversary, adding some storage space and dividing the one large open space on the second floor into three rentable bedrooms. The hostess lived on the first floor (where the office/dining area is now located, and her bathroom was in the back corner. Each night she had to pull out the bed from the sleep-sofa and in the morning, rise early to put it back as a lounge area for visitors. There were two bathrooms, but neither was available for anyone with handicaps. There were some air conditioners in the bedrooms, but not in the hostess "apartment" and not in the chapel or meeting rooms. And every year after the summer season concluded, the house was boarded up and left until Spring when it was re-opened and cleaned up.

    There were always critters who seemed to find their way into the House, and amazing piles of snow on the porch roof that did a great deal of damage to the siding and railings and because the House was never heated, there was constant mold that permeated the walls and caused paint to flake and fall!

    Efforts to make the House a "gathering place" were attempted, but after years of locking it up after Sunday morning church and asking folks to "donate" for using the bathrooms or enjoying a cookie or a glass of punch on the porch, the House had a reputation for being the property of a few active Chautauquans, and the folks renting the three bedrooms claimed their prerogatives year after year shutting out the possibility of anyone else staying there! The "waiting list" was just a joke!

    The new Board gathered to begin the "work" and soon realized that most of them had no idea what they were really supposed to do, but harbored worries about even having accepted a position on the U M House Board of Trustees. We started asking questions.....

    good questions that seemed to upset some folks! Pretty soon the Board decided to walk over to the closed-up House from Hurlbut, and once we did, we all looked at each other and agreed that "This House is a mess!"

    We began by calling volunteers to come and help. A "Vision Committee" was formed and came back with a report that the House was really NOT serving the Methodists that were coming to Chautauqua but was like a private club-house for only a few! The chapel was a cement block looking garage and every Spring the melting frost came up through the cement floor and water laid on the floor causing the paint to peel and float. There were raccoons living in the ceiling and we won't even mention all the other critters like carpenter ants and rats!

    Once a Building Committee was formed, a Vision Statement was agreed upon. We needed an elevator and a handicapped rest room. We needed air conditioning and a kitchen and a gathering place. We wanted heating so we could have retreat groups all year 'round and not have to close the house every fall. And, if we dug out the chapel cement floor and insulated it and put in radiant in-floor heating, maybe the chapel would be a pleasant place to gather, and the awful frost-melting could be eliminated! Big thoughts and Big dreams!

    These were BIG dreams, and they had a BIG price tag! First we were told that we'd never raise $250,000 because we only had nine weeks to reach anyone, so we were turned down by the PA UM Foundation. Tom Wilson called Nancy Richards one Saturday night and told her to have a "pro forma" ready after Church. Nancy had to ask Tom what that was.... he said to get some numbers together about how much the House could ask in rent and what our costs would be for architect and builders and the President of the local Northwest Bank was meeting Nancy after church. It wasn't much of a meeting, really. Tom introduced Nancy who presented a list of costs and Northwest Bank gave us the loan on the spot! Of course, everything cost more and took longer.....but Northwest Bank was there, loaning up to the full 80% of the value of the House! And each one of the Trustees went out and asked their friends to pledge and help us!

    The transformation wasn't just in the building! All the dishes seeded with coins to "suggest" a donation for using our bathrooms were taken away. Nancy asked someone to please just give $100 so we could buy TP for the season and let everyone feel "welcome!" Another friend of the house offered free coffee for the season (and all the seasons since!) so folks coming up onto the porch could feel welcome and sit and visit with others for a while! We called it "Radical Hospitality!"

    What began as a dream has been fully realized over these last twenty-five years! From the very first, the House quietly "tithed" our blessings in that scholarship rooms were made available to both W. NY and W. PA Methodists. Not even the Hostess knew who these persons were, but making a week away in the setting of kindness and caring that IS the UM House at Chautauqua has been a healing and genuine blessing for many!

    On this occasion, I'm proud to still be able to join you on the porch, and I remember with great gratitude the many friends of the House who have generously and lovingly given unstintingly to keep our House a house where ALL are welcomed. Radical Hospitality! It is alive and well here! It's a blessing I pray we'll all re-commit to keeping!

    Nancy Richards