Edward Frances Searles (1841 - 1920)

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Birthplace: Methuen, Essex County, Massachusetts, United States
Death: Died in Methuen, Exxex County, Massachusetts, United States
Managed by: Glen Woodford Balzer
Last Updated:

About Edward Frances Searles

Edward Frances Searles was born on July 4, 1841, in Methuen, Massachusetts, USA to Jesse Gould Searles (1805–1844) and Sarah (Littlefield) Searles. His father worked in a local cotton mill and operated a small farm.

On November 7, 1887, Searles married Mary Frances (Sherwood) Hopkins, a wealthy widow 22 years his senior. The widow of Mark Hopkins, her assets included 25% ownership of the Central Pacific Railroad. Searles was the designer of Mary's new home in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, which is now referred to as the Searles Castle, from the 1885 groundbreaking, to its completion in 1888.[1]

After Mary's death in 1891, Searles was left with his wife's vast real estate holdings in San Francisco, New York, Great Barrington, and Methuen, and $21 million. He died August 6, 1920, at his residence, Pine Lodge, in Methuen, and is entombed in the Searles Mausoleum there at Pine Lodge.[2] the Searles Estate in Methuen circa 1890

During the remainder of his life, he satisfied his love of architecture by building a number of grand structures, frequently in collaboration with architect Henry Vaughan.

from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Francis_Searles

Edward Francis Searles ~ born of modest circumstances, his education but elementary, he found early employment in a local cotton mill; a gifted musician, he studied and became so proficient on the piano and organ that he later taught both instruments. His love of beauty and art led him to Boston where he secured a sales position with Paul & Company, leading interior decorators in that city, and, in 1875, entered the employ of Herter Brothers in New York ~ a firm of national reputation, and which was to create the interiors for the Vanderbilt mansions then being built along Fifth Avenue.

In 1882, having accumulated a modest fortune through sales commissions, he travelled to California for his health and to obtain a testimonial from the widow of Mark Hopkins, one of the "Big Four" of the Central Pacific Railroad fortune, whose palatial mansion on Nob Hill, in San Francisco, had recently been decorated by the Herter firm. Mary Frances Sherwood Hopkins, encountering a kindred spirit in the art-loving, handsome, Edward Searles, requested that he represent her in the development of property she had inherited in her home town of Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Their collaboration resulted in the building of 'Kellogg Terrace' ~ constructed from the plans of famed architect Stanford White; the interiors from the inspired designs of Edward F. Searles. Begun in 1885, by the time of its completion in 1889 Mary Frances Hopkins had proposed to, and married, her discerning associate ~ twenty-one years her junior. When she passed away in 1891 Edward Searles inherited a fortune of over twenty million dollars, becoming one of the wealthiest men in the country.

The remaining three decades of his life were pleasurably spent acquiring art treasures on frequent travels to Europe and England, where he was presented at the Court of Queen Victoria, and planning the formation of a remarkable series of buildings. Edward Francis Searles beautified his home town of Methuen, transforming the district near his beloved estate, 'Pine Lodge', into the resemblance of a European village, and greatly expanded his land holdings to encompass several thousand acres in nearby New Hampshire, which included a model dairy farm and a miniature castle; a fanciful interpretation of an ancestral property in Oxfordshire, England. In the various locales where he owned property he would build, in all, two high schools, two elementary schools, five churches, a home for the aged, a railroad station, a picturesque bridge on a major thoroughfare, and privately pay for the improvement of the roadways in the vicinity of his properties. He would purchase the magnificent Boston Music Hall organ, at that time unused and in disrepair, rebuild and restore the instrument, and construct a building especially to house it; existing today as the Methuen Memorial Music Hall. He donated a fully equipped science building to Bowdoin College in memory of his wife, and deeded her Nob Hill mansion to the city of San Francisco to be used as an art museum; presented a magnificent pipe organ to Grace Cathedral, also on Nob Hill, and gifted the University of California with securities valued at three million dollars, also in her memory.

Edward F. Searles succumbed to heart failure at the age of 79 years, while recuperating from an illness at his well beloved 'Pine Lodge' estate in Methuen. Though his inherited wealth, and accumulated art treasures have long since been dispersed, the mansions remain, ever attracting the curiosity and wonder of passersby. Compiled and written by Robert Bruce

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Edward Frances Searles's Timeline

1841
July 4, 1841
Methuen, Essex County, Massachusetts, United States
1920
August 6, 1920
Age 79
Methuen, Exxex County, Massachusetts, United States
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Methuen, Essex County, Massachusetts, United States