Weekly Top Ten Real Estate Hot List Tue: 10-02-2012
The month of October brings with it thoughts of Halloween and all things spooky with loads of fun haunted houses yet to come. But we just had to get the shivers started to remind ourselves about the impending All Hallows Eve, and though this castle isn’t known for being haunted, it still has a great story to tell and you can decide for yourself if it warrants at least one little shiver!
The Gilded Age, the time that ranged from the post-Civil War Reconstruction to the time when the first taxes were required to be paid, the super-rich gravitated to certain spots in the country to build their mansions and enjoy their fortunes by entertaining each other in massive homes they referred to as “cottages”, in outrageous grandeur. The Berkshires were one of the favored places to congregate and this very special Searles Hopkins Castle in Great Barrington, Massachusetts has always garnered more attention and peaked more interest than most.
Mary Hopkins Searles was born in Great Barrington in 1826. Her aunts ran a school on the land where the Castle now stands. In 1854, Mary married her first cousin, Mark Hopkins, who became one of the four co-founders of the Central Pacific Railroad. About 20 years later, while they were building a mansion on Nob Hill in San Francisco, Mark died, making Mary the most wealthy woman in the country. She continued to work on the mansion with her young decorator, Edward Searles. The earthquake of 1906 destroyed the Nob Hill home and Mary returned to Great Barrington. She had inherited the school property from her aunts, so she proceeded to build her castle - again with the help of her decorator, Searles, 22 years her junior. When they married, it naturally created a scandal. This gave rise to the many folklore stories still circulating today, mainly that the hidden tunnels were designed by Searles so he could secretly get to the maid with whom he was having an affair while Mary lay on her deathbed. At the time of her death, it was never known if he killed her or not, but legend has it that both he and the maid died in separate accidents not long after. True or not true? We may never know for sure what mysteries this mansion has seen.
This massive seven-story “cottage” has 54,246 square feet, 40 rooms, 14 bedrooms and 15 bathrooms, not to mention 36 fireplaces. The most spectacular rooms are the drawing room with the original ceiling paintings and gold leaf and the domed, acoustically perfect music room.
One of America's largest homes - has been for sale since 2007. Reduced from $15m to $8,995,000