History of Chautauqua Assembly now adorns Circle Drive in DeFuniak Springs

July 31, 2019

Circle Drive around Lake DeFuniak has a new look – eighteen new signs to be precise. The Drive is now adorned with a historically informative walking tour of interpretive signage relating to the history of the Chautauqua Assembly. Funded with a $49,500 grant from the Florida Division of Historical Resources, it is comprised of one large  directional map with the story of the history of the area’s once-gated resort/campus first opened in 1885. The Chautauqua Assembly was originally an annual multi-week event.

One of the 18 interpretive signs dotting Circle Drive. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

The tour begins at the Visitors Center at 1162 Circle Drive with one grand panel showcasing the 1884 map of the resort/campus flanked by two other panels explaining the history of the Florida Chautauqua and impact on American culture.  This main exhibit is framed by four 12-foot cast iron lighted lamp posts.

Thousands of people arrived at the resort daily from 1885 to 1928 during the annual Assembly to learn about subjects in the areas of art, education, recreation and religion.  Most notable speakers and lecturers included Abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe, Democratic Presidential Nominee and Orator William Jennings Bryan, Woodrow Wilson’s Vice President Thomas Marshall, Songwriter of Battle Hymn of the Republic Julia Ward Howe, and American Red Cross Founder Clara Barton.

Plan on visiting the Walton County Heritage Museum while you explore. Learn more here.