“designed in the style of Stanton Harcourt Manor”
Searles Castle was built under the direction of Edward F. Searles, an interior decorator and antique collector. Having traced his ancestry to the Oxfordshire Harcourt family, he engaged the prominent architect, Henry Vaughn to design the castle in the style of Stanton Harcourt Manor in Oxon County, England. The building was completed in 1915 at a cost estimated to have been in excess of $1,250,000. The castle, located at 21 Searles Rd. in Windham, NH, contains 20 rooms. Searles is said to have employed the finest masons and woodworkers to construct the castle, and imported marble and artifacts from Europe to furnish it. Examples of the fine work are found in the carved oak balcony, and the marble fireplaces. Edward Francis Searles was born on July 4, 1841, In Methuen, Massachusetts. At the age of thirteen he went to work in a cotton mill to support his widowed mother and his brother. His love of art and music, later to be his hallmark, were in evidence early in his life. At the age of twenty-one he was teaching piano and organ in Bath, Maine.
I've lived in Great Barrington for 17 years and been to Searles twice. It's such a treat to go inside. Currently, it acts as a private school for youth with disciplinary issues, learning disabilities, etc. But occasionally they open up the Castle for fundraising events like concerts or tours. The yards and exterior are still beautifully kept, although parts of the inside definitely feel stuck in the '70s and a bit neglected. The John Dewey Academy students are in charge of interior cleaning and maintenance. But still amazing to see the gaudy dining hall spaces and experience Searles' deteriorating legacy.
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