History

Ellen-Chase-PortraitPortrait of Ellen ChaseA Sketch of the History of St. Paul's Church in Brookline 1849-1949 describes the many talented and able men of St. Paul's in its first 100 years but very little about its women. Pat Dunbar, St. Paul's current Historian, did some research and the result is a fascinating booklet about Ellen Chase.

Ellen was the founder and first regent of the Hannah Goddard Chapter, D.A.R.; a member of the board and at one time, secretary of the Massachusetts Society of Colonial Dames; and a member of the board of the Boys' City History Club. She also belonged to the Society of Mayflower Descendants. In the early 1890s Ellen cofounded the Brookline Historical Publication Society, with Charles Bolton, librarian of the Brookline Public Library, and Daniel S. Sanford,.

She also wrote three volumes of "Materials for the History of St. Paul's Church in Brookline." These binders contain a wealth of information about parish membership and about those who were in some way connected to the church. The work is also a history of much of Brookline. Most of the booklet is dedicated to excerpts of Ellen Chase describing the many influential people in her life and the life of the church.

Below is the preface of the booklet. Click on the title to view the full booklet.  The booklet contains many pictures and if you click on words underscored in blue, it will take you to futher information on the topic on the web.

Independent Spirit: The Life of Ellen Chase & St. Paul's Church Brookline

Preface

As PARISH HISTORIAN of St. Paul's Church in Brookline, Massachusetts, I have had the privilege to go through countless church papers and photographs over the last three years. The Chase name kept appearing so I read the three volumes of Ellen Chase's "Materials for the History of St. Paul's Church in Brookline." These binders contain a wealth of information about parish membership and about those who were in some way connected to the church. The work is also a history of much of Brookline.

Since St. Paul's was the first Episcopal church in Brookline, founded in 1849, many notables were associated with the church. The other two Episcopal churches, Church of Our Savior and All Saints, were organized in 1868 and1894, respectively. There was much information on Ellen's father Henry, and brother; William, both of whom were very active in the church. Women were rarely mentioned in any of documents, and, when they were, they were identified by their husband's names; i.e. Mrs. James F. Smith. Since I could find no information about Ellen, I researched her life.

ELLEN CHASE, born in Brookline, March 6, 1863, was a member of a prominent family and a very active member of St. Paul's.

Her parents were Henry Savage Chase and Sarah Leverett Chase. Henry ran a company that made bags and imported the materials for making them. Ellen wrote that her father moved to Brookline to "sit under Dr. Stone." Dr. John Seeley Stone was the second rector of St. Paul's (1852-1862). Henry moved to Brookline in 1859 and the next year the family built a home on a lot at the corner of Alton Place and St. Paul's Street. The house was located nearest to St. Paul's so that Mrs. Chase, who was somewhat of an invalid, might walk to church. The house was torn down in 1946 and is the location of a parking lot and an adjacent apartment building.

Ellen had a younger sister, Sarah "Sally" Chase Cummings, born April 17, 1866, and an older brother, William Leverett Chase, born December 4, 1853. William married Mary Frances Elizabeth Greenough, September 1876. They had four children. Sarah married Lincoln Clifford Cummings, December 14, 1892 and had four children.

Most of the immediate family were christened, confirmed, married, and buried from St. Paul's. William, Ellen, and Sarah were Sunday School teachers. Soon after moving to Brookline, Henry became a member of St. Paul's vestry; was the Sunday School Superintendent for a number of years; and was for many years its treasurer and one of its wardens. At the time of his death, he was senior warden.

In 1883 Henry's wife, Sarah, died and he donated the chancel in his wife's memory that same year. Henry Savage Chase, died February 19, 1885. Ellen, William, and Sarah, gave $10,000 toward building the Rectory in memory of their father.

"Many additions were placed in the Church in our time. Father placed the brass communion rail in memory of mother; my sister gave the new organ in memory of brother. The cloister I believe he gave in memory of his Little May and we three children gave the Rectory in Father's memory. More recently my nephew, W H. Chase gave the carved tracery before the East window to soften the light, in memory of his mother."

In 1886, when she was 23, Ellen worked in London as a collector of rents in tenement housing, with Octavia Hill. She did this work for several years and wrote a book about her experiences, Tenant Friends Of Old Depford. In the foreword of the book, Octavia said, "Her deep human sympathy enabled her to see all that lay below the squalor and violence of the inhabitants, and to realize how much family love redeemed even the most degraded." Ellen returned to Brookline March 10, 1888.

In the early 1890s Ellen cofounded, with Charles Bolton, librarian of the Brookline Public Library, and Daniel S. Sanford, the Brookline Historical Publication Society. This society would "collect and print in a uniform series such manuscripts as shall seem worthy of permanent preservation."

Ellen was the founder of first regent of the Hannah Goddard Chapter, D.A.R.; a member of the board and at one time, secretary of the Massachusetts Society of Colonial Dames; and a member of the board of the Boys' City History Club. She also belonged to the Society of Mayflower Descendants. Miss Chase lived near the top of Aspinwall Hill on 133 Rawson Road in Brookline. In her eighties she walked to St. Paul's Church each Sunday, which must have been quite a walk since the hill is fairly steep. She died in September; 1949, in her eighty-sixth year and is buried in Forest Hills Cemetery in the Chase family plot along with her mother; father, brother; and four other relatives.

In 1950 "An extremely handsome seventeenth century English court cupboard which belonged to Miss Ellen Chase has been given to the parish in her memory. It is made of ancient bog oak, and it has been placed in the rector's office study opposite the large tile fireplace, where it is both useful and decorative. We are very grateful to Mr. and Mrs. William Leverett Cummings for this gift."

Click to login to St. Paul's Realm

Don't enter user/password below for Realm.


Below is for St. Paul's website login only

Website Login

Subscribe

Get weekly newsletter emailed to you each week!


catchme refresh