One hundred years; quite an anniversary for our yard sale! "In May 1912 the first fair was held on the lawn between the Rectory and the Parish House. It raised $600 from the sale of articles largely made by the ladies of the parish who met at the home of Mrs. Arthur L. Walker". Laura Revere Little was one of the most active parishioners of St. Paul's, many time chair of the fair, among numerous other activities. This first fair is mentioned in Sketch of the History of St. Paul's Church in Brookline: 1849-­‐1949.

  • The first mention of a fall fair is in the May 1932 Vestry minutes.
  • No mention of 1942, but in 1949 the income from the fair was $2,498.
  • On October 25, 1952 the fair took place from 2-­‐5 p.m. Luncheon was 75¢ and tea at the rectory cost 40¢. There were tables with aprons, fancy articles, candy, flowers, treasures, grabs, food, ice cream, and cake.
  • The fair on October 26, 1962 opened with a bang when a gas explosion blew the oven door off the range in the kitchen. The fair featured The Country Store, The Village Inn, household articles, books and records, jewelry, plants and flowers, hobbies and handicrafts, Christmas table, toys and baby clothes, white elephants, roving vendors, hot dogs and soft drinks, pony rides, and a slave auction. The fair brought in $1,750.
  • In 1972 there was a thanksgiving fair, chaired by Eleanor Mitchell, another extremely active parishioner.
  • In 1982 we raised $4,553 at the Harvest Fair, chaired by Allison Moore. The "Calendar" mentioned plans for a "Pie-­‐us" luncheon, booths, collecting rummage, white elephants, and furniture.
  • The Vestry minutes in 1992 said there would be just two fairs next year. $22,440 was raised in 1992.
  • The 2002 fall Yard Sale raised $14,236.
  • Last year, 2011, we raised $12,735
  • The largest price for a single item has been around $1,500.

The Diocesan Parish Historical Society held its annual meeting at St. Paul's Brookline on April 28, 2012.  Pat Dunbar, St. Paul's Historian, hosted the meeting and the Rev. Jeff Mello, St. Pauls Rector, welcomed the attendees.

Brent Donham, architect, gave a presentation on Richard Upjon, architect of St. Paul's original 1852 building.   As the architect of the renovation of St. Paul's sanctuary after its 1976 fire, he also showed pictures of immediately after the fire and the completed renovations.  Click on Richard Upjon, Architect to view the presentation.

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


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.

An old ink drawing of St. Paul's Church BrooklineAn old ink drawing of St. Paul's Church BrooklineAs part of the celebration of St. Paul's first 100 years, the then parish historian Robert Payne Bigelow wrote a booklet entitled A Sketch of the History of St. Paul's Church in Brookline - 1849-1949. It divided the first 100 years of history into four periods:

  • Organization
  • The Aristocratic Period
  • The Clerical Period
  • The Democratic Period

A few random items from the Sketch:

  • 2012 will be the 100th anniversary of the St. Paul's yard sale
  • 1912 no one will have more than one vote at the annual meeting (previously the number of votes was determined by the number of pews you owned)
  • 1914 first appearance of ladies at the annual meeting
  • 1917 one woman was appointed to the search committee for a new rector

The Organization period of this history follows to give a flavor of the entire document. The booklet includes pictures of leading figures during St. Paul's first 100 years. Attached below is a scan of the original pamphlet. To maintain the quality, the size of the file is quite large (13 MB), so either download it and view it locally or be patient when opening the file directly.


A Sketch of the History of St. Paul's Church in Brookline - 1849-1949


The history of St. Paul's Church in Brookline may be divided into four periods. The first one, the Period of Organization, began one hundred years ago. Then Brookline was changing from a rural to a suburban community. Access from Boston was no longer limited to one road from the Neck through Roxbury. The Mill Dam was becoming Beacon Street, with branches from Sewall's Point to Brighton and to Brookline Village. The branch railroad was opened through Brookline in 1848, and in 1851 the Sewall farm (Longwood) became accessible when Beacon Street, Brookline, was constructed and joined to the Mill Dam. Wealthy Boston merchants had for some time been moving into the country, and a number of them chose sites in Brookline whereon to build summer or permanent homes.

It was the year 1848 when the first steps were taken to create an Episcopal parish in this Town. There were three churches here-the First Parish Meeting House at the geographical center, the Baptist Church at the corner of Harvard and Washington Streets, the Harvard Church at Washingtonand School Streets-but no Episcopal church "this side of St. James in the Highlands of Roxbury," except a "weak parish" in Jamaica Plain. On March 8, 1848, at 9 State Street, Boston, in the law office of William Aspinwall were his uncle, Augustus Aspinwall, and Mr. Harrison Fay. Mr. Aspinwall would give land, Mr. Fay $2,000. William Aspinwall would raise subscriptions, and each one would "inquire what persons might be disposed to organize an Episcopal congregation and build a church."

Their efforts brought together a remarkable group of men-socially prominent, leaders in professional or business life, with high integrity, and a rare sense of stewardship in the use of wealth. Men of religion, they prayed and read their Bibles, led family prayers at home, went to church regularly, and took their families with them.

Church - 1852

St. Paul’s Church in Brookline Massachusetts was founded in 1849.  Designed by the famous architect Richard Upjohn, the church was completed in 1852.  It is on the National and State Registers of Historic Places.

St. Paul's Church circa 1870 with Chapel (now Parish Hall) on left and the Aspenwall House (present site of Rectory) on right. St. Paul's Church circa 1870 with Chapel (now Parish Hall) on left and the Aspenwall House (present site of Rectory) on right.

The sanctuary was devastated by fire in 1976, leaving only its exterior walls.  The congregation faced a choice.  They could give up what had been lost (the beautiful Gothic Revival interior and irreplaceable stained glass windows) and move on to other churches. Or they could rebuild the interior, welcoming the new to strengthen the old. Thankfully, the choice was to rebuild.

The importance of physical place inspired a sense of mission that the congregation chose to build on, and the determination, energy and joy in that decision informs our church and our ministries to this day.

Rectory - 1886

The rectory was completed in 1886.  In 1913, the Vestry voted to replace gas lights in the Rectory and the Parish House with electricity.

Parish House - 1859

In 1859, the Chapel (now the parish hall) was dedicated.  The rest of what we now call the Parish House, linking the old chapel to the church, was completed in 1896.  1925 brought extensive renovations to Parish House, including the addition of rooms in the basement.  The current kitchen was created in the early 1990s.

For more information, see the St. Paul’s Church Brookline: A Chronological History of Its Buildings, October 31, 1999 by Brett Donham on the 150th Anniversary of the incorporation of the church.

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