The Chautauqua Movement spread across the United States in the late 1800’s. By 1900, around 200 independent chautauquas existed in the United States, ten of which were in Indiana. Lecturers and entertainers were booked across the country for chautauquas.
At the same time as this, Nappanee, Indiana had developed into a thriving rural community. Looking to grow their town further, residents of Nappanee raised enough money to purchase land in 1922 with plans to construct a pavilion so as to have a permanent structure for the annual Nappanee Chautaqua, which had started in 1914 but had eventually gone on hiatus for the war until 1920. The Nappanee West Pavilion opened in time for the July 1923 Nappanee Chautauqua.
Throughout the 1930’s and 1940’s, many community events continued to take place in the pavilion. However, experiencing the pressures of the post-WWII Baby Boom, the town transformed the pavilion into additional classroom space in 1947. The location served as Park School until 1954.
After the closing of Park School, the pavilion became home to a group of Nappanee thespians who called themselves “Nappanee Civic Theatre.” Since 1958, the group has staged over 1000 productions, many of which took place in the pavilion.
The Nappanee West Pavilion was placed on the National Register in 1994.