The Foundation was established in several scattered buildings in the small town of New Boston, New Hampshire, which Babson chose because he thought it was far enough from big cities to survive a nuclear war. Babson even put up a sign declaring New Boston to be the safest town in North America if World War III came, but town fathers toned it down to say just that New Boston was a safe place.
The Foundation held occasional conferences that drew such people as Clarence Birdseye of frozen-food fame and Igor Sikorsky, inventor of the helicopter. Sometimes, attendees sat in chairs with their feet higher than their heads, to counterbalance gravity. Most of its work, however, involved sponsoring essays by researchers on gravity-related topics.
Over time, the Foundation shed its crank-ish air, turning its attention from trying to block gravity to trying to understand it. The annual essay prize drew respected researchers who didn't mind a shot at a few thousand dollars - including physicist Stephen Hawking, who won several times.
The physical Gravity Research Foundation disappeared some time after Babson's death in 1967. Its only remnant in New Boston is a granite slab in a traffic island that celebrates the foundation's "active research for antigravity and a partial gravity insulator."
The essay award, however, lives on. With prizes of up to $3,500, it is still administered out of Wellesley, Massachusetts by George Rideout Jr., son of the foundation's original director. Recent winners include California astrophysicist George Smoot.