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The Chapel's Trip to America

In 1926 Gertrude Hill Gavin, daughter of James J. Hill, the American railroad magnate, acquired the Chapel, and it was Couelle who negotiated its transfer to her fifty-acre estate at Jericho, Long Island, in the New World.

The Chapel on the Gavin Estate at Jericho, Long Island.

When the Chapel was dismantled the Mayor of Chasse collected, from the remaining records and from the older aristocratic families of the countryside, some of the ancient traditions associated with the Chapel, "the stones of which you have removed some days ago." To Couëlle he further wrote:

The Chapel in question must have been built in the fifteenth century, perhaps even before, and was called the Chapelle de St. Martin de Sayssuel…this Chapel, dating from the Middle Ages, formed a small edifice which was without doubt used for devotions and for the burial of influential people of the community.

Among the many historic memorials in the Chapel he especially noted the tomb -- still a part of the sanctuary floor -- of Chevalier de Sautereau, a former Chatelain of Chasse, who was "Compagnon d'Armes" of Bayard (1473-1524), the famous French knight "Sans peur et sans reproche" (without fear and without reproach).Stone-by-stone the Chapel was dismantled and shipped in 1927 to Long Island amidst anxieties lest the French government stop the exportation. These fears were well founded, for shortly thereafter the French "Monuments Historiques" halted shipments of such monuments abroad.

The reconstruction plans for Long Island were made by one of America's leading architects, John Russell Pope, who also planned the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., for Andrew W. Mellon and designed the Frick Mansion in New York, which has since become the Frick Museum.

Mr. and Mrs. Marc B. Rojtman, shown above, donated the Chapel to Marquette in 1964. In was transported from the Gavin estate in Long Island piece by piece and reconstructed at the university.

Added to the Chapel were two important and priceless treasures -- duly noted by John Russell Pope on his blueprints -- with which numerous legends are associated: the early Gothic altar and the famous Joan of Arc Stone. The stories surrounding the latter are especially interesting. They tell of how Joan of Arc (1412-31) prayed before a statue of Our Lady standing on this stone and at the end of her petition kissed the stone which ever since has been colder than the stones surrounding it. What seems certain is that the niche, of which it is a part, is of the same period as Joan of Arc and as the Chapel.

One of America's most distinguished stained glass artists, Charles J. Connick of Boston, who was responsible for much of the stained glass in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York, was commissioned by Mrs. Gavin to design and execute four stained glass windows in the style and colors of the vitraux of The Sainte Chapelle in Paris. He set them in the original stone mullions and traceries from Chasse.

On Long Island the Chapel was attached to an impressive French Renaissance chateau that Mrs. Gavin also brought stone-by-stone from France.

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