The Aquila Chase Tablet: A Tale
of Lost and Found
1924 John Carroll Chase
erected a memorial tablet in memory of his ancestor
Aquila Chase, one of the early settlers of Newbury.
It graced the entryway of the New England Historic
Genealogical Society (NEHGS) in Boston for many years.
1964, the Society relocated its headquarters from
Ashburton Place to Newbury Street, and with that move
there was no longer wall space to display the Chase
tablet and others like it. The Caen stone* tablet
then vanished from the public eye. Many feared
that it had been stolen, lost, or destroyed. The
tablet, however, had actually been carefully crated and
placed in a warehouse in Brighton. There it stayed
from 1964 until about 1989, when it was finally offered
to any Chase descendant who expressed interest in it.
Crawford Smith, a Chase descendant and trustee of the
NEHGS, took possession of the tablet, storing it at his
house in Portsmouth, NH. A year later, before
moving to California, he gave the tablet to another
Chase descendant, George F. Sanborn, Jr. Mr.
Sanborn had no place to display the tablet so he kept it
2004 Sanborn, who was on the NEHGS staff for nearly 23
years, announced that he had acquired the tablet and had
it safe in storage at his New Hampshire home. He
expressed his desire to pass the tablet along to another
Chase descendant, and also that the tablet be displayed
somewhere that the public could enjoy it. Bob
Stone, then registrar of the First Settlers, heard of
Mr. Sanborn's desire and proposed that the First
Settlers acquire the tablet and display it somewhere in
the Newburyport area as part of the First Settlers'
First Settlers’ Board of Directors then voted to place
this grand genealogical piece in the Newburyport Public
Library. Mrs. Dorothy La France, director of the Newburyport
Library and Dr. William F. Watts, President of the First
Settlers decided that the entrance to the Archival
Center of the library would be an excellent display
location. Installed in December of 2005, the tablet now
proudly watches over those who enjoy genealogy with its
substantial stone presence.
Below the wooden-framed tablet is a
sign which reads:
AQUILA CHASE TABLET
ERECTED BY JOHN CARROLL CHASE,
DESIGNED IN CAEN STONE BY STRICKLAND,
BLOODGETT & LAW
DONATED BY GEORGE F. SANBORN, JR.
Past Director of Library Operations, New England
Historic Genealogical Society
ON LOAN FROM THE COLLECTION OF
“THE SONS & DAUGHTERS OF THE FIRST SETTLERS
OF NEWBURY, MASSACHUSETTS”
WILLIAM F. WATTS, O.D., President
Sons and Daughters of the First Settlers of Newbury
December 1, 2005
* True Caen
(pronounced "kay-en") stone is a creamy-yellow
Jurassic limestone quarried around Caen, France. It
was used primarily for building cathedrals in France
and England as early as the late 11th century.
The most famous structure built of Caen stone is the
Tower of London.
In the U.S., Caen
stone generally refers to the technique of modifying
plaster to appear as limestone. It was popular
in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and the most
well-known example is perhaps in New York's Grand
Central Station, where the interior walls of
Vanderbilt Hall are of (U.S.) Caen stone.
Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry lists a
recipe for Caen stone in the November 1912 issue of
the "Architect and the Engineer."
Mix 5 parts plastering
5 parts Manti Utah stone
and 1-2 parts mixture of white and gray (probably