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Chester H. Aldrich


Centurion, 1908–1940

Full Name Chester Holmes Aldrich

Born 4 June 1871 in Providence, Rhode Island

Died 26 December 1940 in Rome, Italy

Buried Swan Point Cemetery, Providence, Rhode Island

Proposed by Thomas Hastings and Charles P. Howland

Elected 4 April 1908 at age thirty-six

Century Memorial

Buildings which eminently serve their purposes, however fair and diverse their façades may be, generally rest on foundations that are buried and out of sight. So it is with men, and so it was with Chester Aldrich. Some of us knew one façade of his accomplishments and character; some knew another, but all of us realized how well and truly laid were his moral and aesthetic foundations. Some of us knew him as a friend; invariably just, helpful, gay and refreshing in companionship. For he was endowed with many genuine and satisfying amiabilities. Many of us enjoyed those qualities, and came to listen for his ready laughter and soft, clipped speech. Some of us knew him as an architect whose work—whether public buildings or private houses—was directed by an unflagging regard for the classical traditions of his craft. His designs embodied a true love of tradition, beauty, and a balanced order of spirit and taste.

Another façade of his work was reflected at the Kips Bay Boys’ Club, where, for twenty years, he spent himself in providing recreation and interests for the street children of that neighborhood. Their faces will long light up at the mention of his name. To a host of men he appeared as an extremely capable administrator. That side of him was further developed by two years of Red Cross leadership in Italy during the World War, and by five years of inspired direction of the American Academy in Rome, the last two of them troublous and tragical times. One among us, William Adams Delano, knew the easy bearing of his taste and tact through an unbroken partnership extending over a span of four decades. It was a working comradeship that never suffered from mixed interests, objectives or personal tastes.

Below the façades, which we were able to see, lay the solid foundations on which his career rested. There was a course of training at Columbia University, then a long apprenticeship (elbow to elbow with Delano) on the drafting boards of Carrère and Hastings, and then the Ecole des Beaux Arts in France, and finally many happy years in Italy. Of these various emotional stimuli, the call of Italy probably sounded the most beguiling and imperative. It was Chester Aldrich’s custom, whenever his work here allowed, to return to Rome, there to leave the usual tracks of tourist travel and to go venturing in quest of the true spirit of Italy. Summer by summer he sought the rugged strength of those hills around La Verna that had known the footfalls of St. Francis. He left us amid the menacing drums of war. In the realm which his spirit now inhabits there are no drums, no thoughts of strife. It is a sphere “where the stars still keep their ancient peace.”

Geoffrey Parsons
1940 Century Memorials