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 Edward Searles was born on July 4, 1841 in Methuen and grew up to be a successful interior designer with a New York design firm. In 1887, Searles married Mary Frances Hopkins, who was twenty-two years older than him. Mary Searles died four years later leaving Edward an estate estimated to be valued at more more than $21 million

 In 1897 Searles purchased these two Corintian columns from the Bank of America on Wall Street in New York City. The columns had been in New York since 1838 and had been quarried from the same Quincy, MA quarry that supplied the stone for the Bunker Hill Monument. The building in the background was built in 1825 by local businessman George Waldo. It is believed that Searles had created this park as an entrance to his estate on Lawrence Street, but had to abandon his plans when Searles was unable to purchase the triangle of land in the foreground.

Searles owned land on both sides East Street where it meets Lawrence Street. As he continued to expand his home by constructing more buildings, his privacy began to be less secure. Searles made a deal with the town that if they would allow it he would purchase the road as it passed near his property and relocate it a short distance

 This is a view of Lawrence Street looking northwest. The wall were built by Searles to enclose his estate on the right and the Lawrence Street cemetery on the left.

 Searles began building shortly after he got married. One of the first projects he worked on was his boyhood home.. This undated photo shows the Searles estate sometime in the 1890s.

 One of Searles interests was organ music. He learned at an early age how to play the organ and as his wealth grew he was able to purchase some of the best organs in the world. This photo shows Searles organ hall on Broadway which he had built in 1909. The building was designed by noted architect Henry Vaughn to house the former Boston Music Hall concert organ. The building to the left of the orrgan hall was once the Methuen Woolen Company before Searles purchased it in 1889 and created the Methuen Organ Company in the building in 1892. The organ factory was abandoned in 1942 and was destroyed by a fire the following year.

This organ was completed in 1863 and stood in the Boston Music Hall. In 1884 it was dismantled and put into storage. Searles purchased the organ at an auction in 1897 for $1500. The organ was stored for ten years in a specially designed brick building on Broadway near the Spicket River until the organ hall could be built. Today the the organ is administred by the Trustees of the Methuen Memorial Music Hall.

 The bridge at the Organ Factory was one of several public works projects donated to the city by Edward F. Searles. The towers, were designed by Searles' architect Henry Vaughan


 In 1897, Edward F. Searles acquired the property of S. Q. Hersey including the Exchange Hotel on Broadway, the adjoining hotel livery stable, and a house facing on Pleasant Street. In 1900 he created a private guest house called the Red Tavern, which is said to have been made up out of several earlier houses. This reworking and moving of existing buildings was a common practice of Searles and his architect, Henry Vaughan who was responsible for the renovations. In 1909 the Methuen Transcript reported that the Red Tavern had recently been opened to the public, providing English style accommodations. It was run for Searles by Carrie Barnes, his house keeper for many years. According to Smith B. Williams, Searles left the Red Tavern to Mrs. Barnes in his will.

The Red Tavern was purchased by Howard Freedman in 1946, who made several additions. According to advertising material from that period, the Red Tavern had 21 rooms, many of which were panelled in oak or walnut. Several rooms had large fire places and the decor continued to reflect an English theme.


 According to Henry Vaughan's biographer the Searles Chapel, designed by Vaughan, was completed in 1918 at a cost of $600,000. Searles, who died in 1920, was entombed in the crypt, "Egypt," beneath the chapel. The chapel, which now belongs to the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary, is known as Our Lady of Sacred Heart.
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Methuen History

Last Updated 2/21/05


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