I received E-Mail that said:

I have some information you may find useful on the Searles Castle that is located in Great Barrington, MA, and currently houses a prep school (which I attended). Here goes:

The GB SC was commissioned in 1886 by railroad magnate Mark Hopkins, and cost something like $2.5 million (I think). He died during its construction, and the widow Hopkins married John Searles - hence Searles Castle. I think it's actually much more castle-y looking than the Wyndham estate, but then again I don't know much about architecture. Anyway, it's very nice. It was designed to be inhabited by just the two of them, plus their umpteen-person staff; adjunct to the master bedrooms were drawing rooms, sitting rooms, "closets," etc., so it housed 30 teenagers quite nicely. In addition to the main building, there were the carriage house and coachman's house (quite large, it was, but it burned in the early part of this century). The property is around 90 acres, including an artificial pond and facade, and at one point a nine-hole golf course.

Unfortunately, there were some problems with the foundation (still are) and the Searles found it unsatisfactory, so they packed up and built a new one in NH. They took with them a bunch of the more valuable accoutrements, too, like the brass front doors, the sterling banister from the staircase, and lots and lots of expensive marble.

Later, I received more E-Mail that said:

Searles Castle in Great Barrington, MA: This estate is also known as Barrington House or Kellogg Terrace. According to Carole Owens in her 1984 book "The Berkshire Cottages, a Vanishing Era" the property took three years to build, with the initial idea born in 1883, and was to be named "Kellog Terrace" after Mrs. Hopkins's two aunts who left the Barrington property. The original architect was actually Stanford White but was replaced Henry Vaughan as he was thought to be more compliant to their wishes. A private railroad was built solely to bring the marble used in the house from the nearby quarry.

Contrary to what's stated (or at least this is what Ms. Owens says) Mr. Hopkins died well before the project was visualized and when the widow remarried she did so to Edward Searles not John. They enjoyed the estate for four seasons until 1891 when Mary Searles (nee Hopkins) died. Edward never enjoyed Barrington much and had on-going feuds with the area. He erected a wall to keep out the noise from the Great Barrington Trolley after trying to fight the system. He then was besieged with the curious trying to see more of the great castle. The latter, it's been said, was the breaking point and he left (taking numerous architectural details with him) to his house in Methun.

Later, I received more E-Mail that said:

The page sparked some interesting memories (although they are all still off the top of my head and may be wrong). It's true that Mr.Searles never got along with Great Barrington (GB has a tendency to feud with its most prominent residents - cf. Arlo Guthrie and Alice's Church), and erected the wall to try to block noise. If you visit the estate today, you'll note that the original avenue, which ran north-south in keeping with the grounds' design, is gone, as it was too inviting passersby. The "new" entrance is off to the side and rather small. I remember that as students in the building, we were always shooing away people who just wandered in off Route.7. Funny.

I can also add to the part about Searles taking "architectural details" with him; among these were the front doors, which were bronze, the banister from the central staircase, which was silver, gold fixtures from the French Room (imported from France), and lots of marble.

Curious visitors dropping in unexpectedly are still a problem for the inhabitants of the castle, but if you'd like to see the inside of it, there are certain occasions each year when visitors are allowed in. Be warned - the tour guides are all sixteen and have just been given a crash course in Searles Castle history. They may be quite wrong about the details.

During Great Barrington's Summerfest, there may be a corresponding "Searlesfest" (ha, ha) where you can get a tour and maybe have your car washed. Around Hallowe'en, the building may be made into a haunted house which can be quite fun (there was an apathetic year where we all we did was turn out the lights and toss cotton onto the chandeliers - still pretty scary when you don't know your way around). Over the summer, the Stockbridge Chamber Music Concerts (1-888-528-7728) are held in the castle's Music Hall, if you want to see that. To find out what's going on at the castle, call 1-413-528-9800. They'll answer as John Dewey Academy.

Later, I received E-Mail that said:

I am a resident of Windham, NH and have always been. I have not seen any discrepancies in the history of the castle once you combine the Methuen, Windham, and Great Barrington stories together. I did want to add a couple of notes. The castle in Windham, NH is only approx. 10-15 miles from the one in Methuen, MA. The one in Methuen was built first and the one in Windham was built as a "summer" home with it's own chapel and large grounds.

If you drive through the towns of Windham and Salem, NH and Methuen, MA, you will notice stonewalls. These walls were built around all the castle grounds, but were not built for any reason as in Barrington, MA. These walls were built during the Great Depression to help ease the suffering of the area. Edward had millions, but did not want to give "hand outs" to the townfolk. Instead he hired everyone that would work to build him the wall, this way they felt they were earning their money and he was not giving it away. He had these walls built for that reason only, had the Depression never happened the walls may not have ever been built.

Later, I received E-Mail that said:

There seems to be a historical inaccuracy in one of your previous emails regarding Searles castle. The email in part states:

These walls were built during the Great Depression to help ease the suffering of the area. Edward had millions, but did not want to give "hand outs" to the townfolk. Instead he hired everyone that would work to build him the wall, this way they felt they were earning their money and he was not giving it away.

Edward Searles died in August, 1920. The depression began in 1929 with the crash of the stock market. Perhaps there was an Edward Searles Jr. who inherited the fortune???

On 5-28-07, I received E-Mail that said:

Thought you'd find this interesting:

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