Windham Life and Times – December 22, 2017

Edward Searles and Angelo

Cats and Dogs in Front of Fireplace at Pine Lodge

The Life and Kindness of Mr. Searles

“Well, Stanton Harcourt was a big place; about two thousand acres. Mr. Searles really loved that castle there; he built it to give himself something to do, but his real home was at Pine Lodge. Up at the castle he would take his stick and use it to show the men how he wanted things done. He always carried a cane. In those days all the gentlemen had walking sticks, and when he wanted something done he would make a plan with his cane, right on the ground, and draw just what he wanted. He would say, ‘You make it like this, here; and do it like that over there!’ He never made the whole design at one time. When the men were finished he would come back and look at it and say it was all right, and make another plan so they could continue. Sometimes it wasn’t the way he thought it would look, or he would think of something better, and he would tell them to take it down and rebuild it a different way. If he was having a wall built and there was a tree in the way he would have the wall built around the tree! He loved beautiful trees! I remember meeting his architect up there, Vaughan; he was a very nice man. He and the old gentleman got along well because both of them were designers, and understood each other. It was Mr. Searles, though, who planned the walls, and changes to other houses that he owned. We used to walk all around his properties in Methuen, and New Hampshire. He enjoyed looking at everything he made; he loved to do that. Mr. Searles never really finished anything he did; he was always changing or adding something. At the castle there was one part that was just a shell. He was going to put a big room there for the organ from Barrington. He was teaching me how to play on the organ at Pine Lodge, and I think that was why, because he told me that the castle would be mine someday. Pine Lodge was never finished either. When I was with him he was talking to an architect in New York, about something for Pine Lodge; that was later after his architect Vaughn had died. I met Vaughn a few times. He was an Englishman, and Mr. Searles loved everything English. The furniture for the castle in New Hampshire came from Barrington and Pine Lodge; they were moving it inside when I was living up there. The old gentleman bought a fireplace from France and had it put in the castle; another fireplace came from Europe and he had the whole thing rebuilt and put in Pine Lodge. Mr. Searles loved the castle, but he loved Pine Lodge most of all because he was born there; right there in the old house. It was really his home.”

“Pine Lodge was full of every kind of treasure you can think of; statues, paintings, and all kinds of beautiful things that came from Europe and Asia…Mr. Searles had his own bedroom in the house there, and Miss Littlefield had another; all the rest was for his art collection. After I started to work for him he arranged for me to have a room in the house also; everyone else, like Art Brown, the butler, lived in other houses on the property. When Arthr Walker, or other men from his businesses came, they stayed at the Red Tavern; that was his guest house. When Mr. Searles was in Methuen people were coming to see him on business. There was a little office there, at Pine Lodge, near the house, where he would meet those businessmen; Walker worked in there too, when he came to town. Mr. Searles and Miss Littlefield had an office in Pine Lodge, that he used for his personal business. Edith Littlefield was his cousin and she ran the house for him because he was always going away on business, or traveling; he loved to travel! She had a big checkbook and paid all the bills, and took care of his correspondence for him. Some people would write to say they knew of someone who needed help; lots of people asked for some kind of help. Miss Littlefield would always reply that they would receive an answer when Mr. Searles returned to town. That would give him time to check if a request was from someone really in need. He owned all kinds of property there, all kinds of houses. One day, when I was at Pine Lodge, a man came to tell him that someone could not pay their rent, and Mr. Searles said to forget about it! Many times he didn’t make any money on his properties. He told me, himself, that he didn’t make enough to pay the taxes on some of his property! He didn’t care; he did that to help out people. Mr. Searles was always doing things like that. He built all kinds of churches, all over. In New Hampshire a church burnt down and I was told that he built one to take its place. I remember him speaking to Miss Littlefield and telling her to make sure that everybody who worked for him was paid all year long. He made sure that they were paid every week, or every month. He had a crew of carpenters, and a crew of stonemasons, and kept them on the payroll even if the weather was bad and they couldn’t work for a few days, or  few weeks! He always had men building walls, or a new addition somewhere. He had lots of men out cutting trees, to clear land and have enough wood for all the fireplaces at Pine Lodge and Stillwater, and the castle in Windham. He would give the extra firewood away to people who couldn’t afford to heat their houses. Lots of poor people were helped out like that, and only he and Miss Littlefield knew of it! In those days you were either rich or poor; you didn’t have the big middle class like you have today.”

“I remember Miss Littlefield well. I would go into her office to talk with her; I would kid with her and make her laugh. She had a sense of humor, and Mr. Searles had a sense of humor too! People didn’t think so, but his friends who knew him well knew that! Dr. Bowker, from Lawrence, was a good friend of his, and he was always coming to Pine Lodge for visits. The old gentleman had lots of close friends; not like what was said in the newspapers; that he didn’t bother with anybody. If anybody said that they really didn’t know him at all. He wasn’t in ‘The Four Hundred’; he didn’t want to be part of ‘Society’. He just wanted his treasures around him and his friends…”


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