Searles Castle (Massachusetts)

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Searles Castle
Searles Castle, Great Barrington MA.jpg
Searles Castle
Searles Castle (Massachusetts) is located in Massachusetts
Searles Castle (Massachusetts)
Searles Castle (Massachusetts) is located in the US
Searles Castle (Massachusetts)
Location 389 Main Street, Great Barrington, Massachusetts
Area 64 acres (26 ha)
Built 1883
Architectural style Renaissance, Other, Chateauesque
NRHP Reference # 82004953[1]
Added to NRHP April 15, 1982

The Searles Castle is a romantically imagined castle-style house in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.[2] Built in the 1880s, and in the French chateau-style, it has seven stories and includes a "dungeon" basement. The castle was initially designed by Stanford White of McKim, Mead and White,[3] a famous New York architectural firm at the time. There are 40 rooms containing 54,246 square feet (5,039.6 m2) of floor space, as well as 36 fireplaces.

History of building and ownership[edit]

The castle was commissioned in 1885 for Mary Sherwood Hopkins, by her husband, treasurer and one of the founders of the Central Pacific Railroad, Mark Hopkins.[3] Mark Hopkins died in 1878 and Mary Hopkins married Edward Francis Searles, who had designed the interior, while the castle was being built. He was thirty years younger than she was. Hopkins died in 1891, but Searles maintained the castle until his death in 1920.[3] After his death, the structure was used as a private girls' school for 30 years.[3] It then passed through a variety of owners and uses, including as a training and conference center for a New York insurance company, an all girls boarding school and a country club.[3]

Since the mid-1980s it has housed John Dewey Academy, a school for troubled teens, which put the castle on the market in 2007 for $15 million.[4][2] In 1886, the castle cost 2.5 million dollars; by the time it was turned into a country club, it cost over 100 million dollars. It has since then been taken off the market and continues to run as the John Dewey Academy

Architectural features of the castle[edit]

In 1888, the property was 229 acres. The stone of the exterior of the castle is blue dolomite. All the pillars in the atrium were hollowed out except one. The Louis XV Versailles Room is imported from Venice. There used to be an organ in the music hall, but it was removed when the castle became the John Dewey Academy,[4] due to its Christian connotations. There are 3 safes on the first floor: one in the dining hall, 2 in the up kitchen. The safe in the kitchen had silver in it when the castle switched owners. The wood floors are finger locked construction, meaning there are no nails used anywhere.The castle was one of the first places to have its own built in walk-in cooler.[3] The pond was built as a cross specifically so it could reflect the castle from the other side, to add to the beauty when people would go have tea by the façade. There is a secret stairway connecting the second floor bedroom where Mary Hopkins slept to the third floor bedroom where Edward Searles slept, which they used go between each other's rooms.[2] The Carriage house which currently stands was not the original. The original burned down a few years after the castle was completed, and was replaced by the current one.

Films at Searles Castle[edit]

Very recently, there was a film crew who filmed a movie in this castle. The movie is called Like Lambs, and has not been released yet.[5]

Another Movie, Before and After, was filmed in the castle. This movie included actors Liam Neeson and Meryl Streep.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ a b Durwin, Joe (2007-03-15). "These Mysterious Hills: SEARLES CASTLE". These Mysterious Hills. Retrieved 2016-11-15. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Parrish, Lila (1984). A History of Searles Castle. Great Barrington, MA. pp. 1–31. 
  4. ^ a b "For sale: old Massachusetts castle; dungeon included". The Seattle Times. 2007-05-20. Retrieved 2016-11-15. 
  5. ^ Marcus, Ted (2016-04-08), Like Lambs, retrieved 2016-11-15 
  6. ^ Schroeder, Barbet (1996-02-23), Before and After, retrieved 2016-11-15 

Coordinates: 42°11′31″N 73°21′45″W / 42.19194°N 73.36250°W / 42.19194; -73.36250