Edgar Conkling’s enchantment with Point Chautauqua began the moment that he came upon this picturesque lakeside community in the autumn of 1975, precisely 100 years from the time of its creation by that most celebrated of landscape architects, Frederick Law Olmsted. Taking up residence in one of the oldest houses in the settlement, he grew to know and appreciate the historic worth of the Olmsted heritage—and also to become increasingly anxious about its vulnerability. With advanced degrees in economic geography from Northwestern University and sociology from the University of Chicago, Professor Conkling taught international business at the State University of New York at Buffalo, wrote a number of books and articles on the subject and edited two professional journals. Following his retirement in 1989, he lived year-round at Point Chautauqua, working to ensure the permanence of the community’s historically important Olmsted design.
A well-preserved creation of America’s most celebrated landscape architect, Point Chautauqua’s 1875 Frederick Law Olmsted design is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Among Olmsted’s many works, Point Chautauqua stands alone. Only here did the master find a physical setting that conformed to his aesthetic ideal. Moreover, this was his only design for a religious community. Frederick Law Olmsted’s Point Chautauqua richly exhibits Olmsted’s design principles, making it a perfect example of historic landscape architecture that is also a living, working community, and a rewarding laboratory for students of historic landscape architecture.