Edward Francis Searles

Edward Francis Searles

Methuen, Essex County, Massachusetts, USA
Death 6 Aug 1920 (aged 79)
Methuen, Essex County, Massachusetts, USA
Burial Non-Cemetery Burial, Specifically: Searles mausoleum
Memorial ID 21449399 · View Source
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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 pleasureably 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 recouperating 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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  • Created by: R. Bruce
  • Added: 8 Sep 2007
  • Find A Grave Memorial 21449399
  • R. Bruce
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Edward Francis Searles (4 Jul 1841–6 Aug 1920), Find A Grave Memorial no. 21449399, ; Maintained by R. Bruce (contributor 46568831) Non-Cemetery Burial, who reports a Searles mausoleum.