A Brief History
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,
In 1875, after an apprenticeship with a Boston firm,
Searles became an interior decorator for the prestigious
Herter Brothers of New York City. In 1881, he met
Mary Hopkins, a Herter Brothers client, in San Francisco.
Her husband, Mark Hopkins, part-owner of the Southern
Pacific Railroad, had died in 1878. He left his
wife an inheritance of sixty-one million dollars.
Mary Hopkins commissioned Searles to design the
interior of her Nob Hill home, and to work on Kellogg
Terrace in her birthplace of Great Barrington, Massachusetts.
They were married on November 8, 1887 in New York
City. He was forty-seven; she was about sixty-seven.
From Mary's death in 1891 until his own, Searles
was involved in building projects in Methuen, Massachusetts,
as well as Salem and Windham, New Hampshire. He
died in 1920.
Searles willed the castle to his secretary, Arthur
T. Walker, who died in August of 1927, leaving it to
his brothers and sisters. They sold it to Mr. And Mrs.
Frank Andrew of Methuen, Massachusetts, in 1930.The
Sisters of Mercy acquired the castle in 1952. Since
then it has been used as a novitiate for young women
entering the Sisters of Mercy; a retreat house; and
administrative offices. Castle College held classes
in the castle for over twenty-five years.
Because the building needed extensive repairs, Castle
College moved to a wing of the Sisters Of Mercy
motherhouse on the property, and the castle was
closed for five years. During those five years,
repairs were made to the roof and building. In 1991,
in an effort to restore the interior of the castle,
a "Decorators' Showcase"
was held. Through the generosity of those interior
designers and contributions received over the years
from many benefactors, the interior of the building
has been refurbished. Since that time, the castle
has been available to the public for social, cultural
spiritual and business events.
In November of 2001, the Sisters of Mercy contracted
David and Linda Kolifrath of Salem, New Hampshire to
organize and manage events held at the castle. At this
time it was decided that operations would be expanded
to include weddings and receptions in the castle courtyard
in an effort to better utilize the facility, better
serve the needs of the public, and to raise additional
funds to further the charitable programs of the Sisters