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Avis Chase Cottages Will Once Again Host Summer Visitors

April 5, 2017

The Cape Cod Chronicle
By Tim Wood

CHATHAM – The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has cleared the way for a Philadelphia nonprofit organization to once again offer vacations at three historic cottages in the Old Village to its members.

In denying an appeal last week, the court let stand a ruling turning back the Boston YWCA’s attempt to wrest control of the three cottages donated to the Philadelphia YWCA by Avis Chase more than half a century ago. Late last year the state appeals court affirmed the Philadelphia organization’s ownership of the property, which has a combined value of more than $6 million, after a Barnstable County Probate and Family Court judge ruled in favor of the Boston group in 2015.

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Albert Piccerilli, one of the group’s two attorneys, said since the only appeal of the decision is to the U.S. Supreme Court, he expects it to stand.

“We’re very happy about this,” he said. “We felt this was just an effort to get the cottages.”

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In the early 2000s, the Philadelphia Y fell on hard times, Piccerilli said. It lost its affiliation with the national YWCA but continued to operate as the Avis Chase Women’s Association. Since 2010, he said, the organization has been growing and increasing its membership; today it also offers scholarship programs for young girls. Horrocks said the group has 250 to 300 members.

In 2012 the Boston Y sued “at a time when the Philadelphia association was trying to emerge from the difficult times upon which it had fallen,” Piccerilli said. Claimed the Philadelphia organization could no longer carry out the original intention of Chase’s will, the Boston Y – which had been named a successor organization in Chase’s will – sought to gain control of the cottages, two of which have frontage on Mill Pond.

Piccerilli said although the Probate Court awarded ownership of the cottages to the Boston Y, the appeals court dismissed the complaint, “in large part on the ground that Boston YWCA lacked any standing to sue for the Chase cottages.” The March 29 denial by the Supreme Judicial Court reaffirms that ruling.

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