In 1856, the Chase family moved to Syracuse, New York, where his father had established a shoe factory after a disastrous fire destroyed his business in Williamburg. Chase's father became a partner in a tannery in nearby Solvay and also began dabbling in the patent medicine business. Chase studied at the Mechanics Institute in Syracuse, where he had access to a well-stocked library. In 1866, he enrolled at the newly opened Syracuse High School but left after one year to work for his father's growing business. He continued his art training at home with local artists and at the school of design run by the firm of Crouse & Browne. The following year, Chase abandoned his interest in medicine for art. Chase enrolled at the National Academy of Design in New York City, where he studied under Lemuel Wilmarth (1827-1908), one of America's foremost painters of landscape and marine subjects. After Wilmarth died unexpectedly three years later, Chase changed instructors frequently before settling with Kenyon Cox (1859-1919) in 1876.