Monday, September 8, 2008


Since my sister is moving to our house in the Berkshires next week I think I need to get some financial backers for this place...
Anyone have a quick way to raise $30 million dollars?
Okay maybe not $30m...
If we offer full asking price we would need $3,000,000 right off the bat for the down payment.
We would need to generate $80,482 per month just to cover the mortgage. That's sick...
That doesn't even include staff or expenses. I'd venture to say you'd need to make at LEAST $1,000,000 per month to keep this place afloat.
You would need to make $2,740 PER DAY to just cover expenses
Even if you charged $500 per night you would need to have at least 6 rooms filled year round and it has 24 bedrooms...I suck at math...what's the percentage on that for room occupancy?
We could have a spa and a conference area for business meetings.
I keep thinking this place would be AMAZING as a horse destination.
It has a barn, it would I'm sure need to be updated and a ring would need to be built and...
Listen to me thinking I could actually do something like this.
It would be fun though. Someday maybe.
If you know anyone who wants to back this financially let me know...

For the past 22 years, the castle at the end of Main Street in Great Barrington, Mass., has been home to an experimental school for troubled teenagers. The two-dozen students sleep in the turrets and the carriage house and play Frisbee on the lawns of the walled estate. The director's office is housed in the drawing room with a marble fireplace flanked by five-foot statues of Hercules.
For the first time in decades, the 1888 French château, built by one of the richest women in the country, who later married her decorator, has thrown open its heavy doors to the public — the buying public, that is.
With 40 rooms, 36 fireplaces, seven turrets, and a dungeon situated on 61 acres, the Searles Castle hit the market this summer for $15 million. The sale attracted a cadre of potential buyers to the small Berkshires town known for nearby cultural institutions such as Jacobs Pillow and Tanglewood. A European engineer's offer for more than the asking price has been accepted. Once the deal is closed, it will be the most expensive residential sale in the area's history.
"In the last five years, a number of properties have been built that are in excess of $10 million," the president of Wheeler and Taylor Realty, Joseph Carini, said. "The sale of Searles Castle will be the beginning of something that the Berkshires hasn't seen before," he said, adding that the most interesting thing about the castle is its history.
In 1878, Mary Hopkins inherited tens of millions of dollars when her husband, the Central Pacific railroad magnate Mark Hopkins, died in Yuma, Ariz. She was living in San Francisco at the time, finishing the decorations on her Nob Hill home, when she asked her decorator, Edward Searles, a mill worker who ascended the ranks to decorate the Vanderbilt homes, to design the estate she was building in Great Barrington.
While the mansion is not technically a castle — by definition it would require a moat — Hopkins spent more than $1 million, an enormous sum at the time, to build an estate fit for a king, or queen. She hired McKim, Mead, and White and hundreds of workers from around the world — importing roof shingles from Belgium and Belgians to install them, walls of marble from the Atlas Mountains in North Africa and the hills of Italy, and even using blue dolomite from her local quarry on East Mountain.
Because English oak was difficult to find even in Britain, Ms. Hopkins had two oaken ships sunken off the coast of Scotland towed to America and disassembled to secure the fine wood for her grand hall. The music room is capped with a dome reaching 42 feet and a circular window opening on to the third floor to flood that part of the house with music. (W.E.B. Du Bois worked one summer during the construction as a timekeeper for $1 a day.)
In a move that shocked upper crust society, Ms. Hopkins later married her handsome decorator, who was 22 years her junior. The couple wed at the Trinity Church in New York City in 1887. The house was finished the following year.
When Hopkins died four years later, she left everything to Searles, who quickly gutted the 6,000 square foot estate and moved to Rhode Island with his male personal assistant.
The sale of the Searles mansion — oddly named for the decorator rather than the woman who built it — attracted hundreds of queries. "The global market thought it was a bargain at $15 million," an agent with William Ravies, Kristine Giradin, who is selling the property, said. The weak dollar has attracted numerous inquiries from Europe, including a few from "people who collect castles." One prospective buyer wanted to build a winery (the dungeon wasn't considered cold enough), while another wanted to convert it into condos.
The castle has changed hands only about a half dozen times since it was built. Its last buyer, Dr. Thomas Bratter, stumbled upon the place in the 1980s when his car broke down on his way to a concert at Tanglewood from Scarsdale. The only open Buick dealer was in Great Barrington. Looking for a way to kill time, he said he heard about a castle for sale and went to check it out. He soon traded $450,000 for a set of keys to the castle and opened the John Dewey Academy.
Asked if he would miss the place, Dr. Bratter looked around — a chandelier hovers above his office that looks out over a terrace reminiscent of a French chateau — and noted that it wasn't really to his taste. Dr. Bratter, 68, said it was time to sell; he plans to move the school — which charges $80,000 a year — into another location in the Berkshires.
Early last century, a number of local businessmen got together to buy the place for about $65,000, and once inside they found a chest or two filled with linen and silver worth just as much. Dr. Bratter says there are three safes that have yet to be opened.
The dungeon is off limits to the students, although according to local historian Lila Parrish, who published an exhaustive history of the estate, "looking like dungeons, the subbasements were used for more humane purposes."
The students say they are going to miss living in the castle and that they respect that the place was all hand made. They won't miss everything: One student, sitting in the front room floored with moriah marble and covered in ornate oak paneling, said, "It takes a lot of time to do all the dusting. We have to get in the curves with Q-tips."

GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — The Searles Castle has towered over this Berkshire town for 120 years, its seven turrets and blue dolomite exterior creating a fortress at the end of Main Street.

It has been walled off from the public as a home to the uber-rich and as a private school, and has opened its gates as a conference center and cultural attraction.

Now, the French chateau-style castle is for sale — a $15 million property joining a small niche of the world's luxury real estate market.

"People who have everything else want to own a castle at least once in their lives," said Denis Burrus, a sales agent for de Rham Sotheby's International Realty who sells castles in Switzerland. "It shows that they've achieved something in their lives."

Searles Castle is no ordinary mansion. It may not have been designed to keep enemies away from a royal family, but it has all the trappings to make it worthy of Sleeping Beauty.

There isn't a moat, but the seven-floor castle has a dungeon that could be used for a friendlier purpose — a restaurant, perhaps, or an extensive wine cellar.

Thirty-six fireplaces are scattered among more than 40 rooms, one of which once contained a pipe organ and served as a mini-concert hall.

Marble is everywhere — rising in columns, carved as mantles and in slabs as flooring.

Balconies and terraces overlook the property's sprawling 61 acres, which include a T-shaped lagoon, tennis courts and a garden temple guarded by two marble sphinx sculptures.

And if the 60,000-square-foot castle seems too overwhelming, it's just a short walk from the front gate to a busy row of restaurants and shops. Think the tax bill is too high? Cross the street and file a complaint at Town Hall.

Burrus has been selling castles for 15 years in Switzerland, where one or two go on sale each year for as much as $40 million.

The market is more crowded in countries like France, where he said buyers can choose from about 100 properties.

In the United States, seeing a castle for sale is rare.

"There aren't enough castles marketed and sold in the United States that we bother keeping track of them," said Steve Cook, vice president of public affairs for the National Association of Realtors.

Agents handling the deal for William Raveis Real Estate envision Searles Castle being turned into a spa, resort or conference center, making it a good fit with other luxurious getaways that dot the Berkshires.

But Kristine Girardin, a William Raveis representative, wouldn't rule out the possibility of the castle returning to its roots as a private residence.

"I've seen houses on the market in Beverly Hills for $40 million that I think this is far superior to," she said.

Built in 1888, the castle was commissioned by Mary Hopkins, the widow of railroad tycoon Mark Hopkins. Mary Hopkins hired noted interior decorator Edward Searles for the project, and the two married a year before it was finished.

Hopkins died in 1891, but Searles stayed in the castle until 1902 before spending more time in Methuen. After his death in 1920, the castle spent the next three decades as a private school for girls. It then changed hands among business owners and an insurance company, serving at different times as a storage area, conference center and cultural attraction.

Since the mid-1980s, it has been the site of the John Dewey Academy, a private school for troubled teens. The school's director says he needs to sell the castle for tax reasons and is looking for a place to relocate.

The move might be hard for some who fell under the spell of a building meant for fairy tales.

"It's tough to go home when you spend your whole day working in a castle," said Michael Gould, who teaches French and Italian at John Dewey. His office is round, a carved-out nook in one of the building's seven towers.

"You expect to look out the window and see Rapunzel with the hair coming down," he said.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


OFFERING: 1888 French Château style stone castle, built with the finest materials of the 19th century. Interior finishes of the utmost value, including four varieties of imported marble, statuary accentuated fireplaces, carved wood ceilings, a Louis XIV drawing room with details in gold and original painted ceiling, acoustically engineered music room with 42 foot dome ceiling, and many examples of fine craftsmanship impossible to replicate. The exterior architecture features a slate roof and a variety of hipped and conical roofs accentuated by delicate finials, narrow chimneys, gablets and turrets. The main structure is comprised of over 60,000 square feet, including an impressive sub-basement, staff quarters, and gym.

The property consists of 61 lush acres, with over a thousand feet of river frontage on the Housatonic. Stone loggia and formal terraces, lagoon and garden temple. Distant mountains frame the green meadows and stately property, which is tucked in-town but protected by a large stone wall.
Carriage house, barn, tennis court. Located in the Berkshires, a long time resort community for the affluent, located only 2 ½ hours driving time from Boston or NYC. Perfect for personal residence or commercial investment opportunity. Offered at 15 million. Inquiries to Kristine Girardin, 860-459-7797.

Informational packet available by request.
* Seven towers
* 40 rooms
* 7 levels
* 36 fireplaces
* Carriage house, lagoon, barn,
* Over 60,000 sq foot mansion
* 6000 sq foot carriage house
* 2300 sq foot barn
* Over 1,000 feet of river frontage


The Searles Hopkins Castle was finished in 1888. It was built by Mary Sherwood Hopkins, (1819-1891) who was the widow of Central Pacific Railroad magnate Mark Hopkins (1813-1879) After Mark's death, Mary Hopkins decided to
return home to Great Barrington, and commence construction of the mansion.
She met Edward Searles (1841-1921), the interior designer for the castle.
They eventually married and honeymooned in Europe, where the couple acquired many important finishes for the mansion, which Mary called "Kellog Terrace." Edward Searles inherited the property upon her death.

ARCHECTURE: Designed by McKim, Mead, and White and is thought to be the work of Stanford White himself. The 1888 French Chateau style mansion was built with the finest materials of the 19th century. The design is said to
resemble Chambord or the older part of Chenonoeaux, on the river Cher, with its elaborate rooflines.

CONSTRUCTION DETAILS: The quarry on East Mountain provided the blue dolomite for the building, being brought down the hill and onto the property to stone dressing sheds. A modern home for its time - built with indoor plumbing and electricity. Many early electrical fixtures are still intact. Unique detail such as curved rooms, curved pocket doors, and countless carved wood and marble fireplaces. Lake Mansfield once powered the organ and elevator in the castle. The two marble sphinxes currently on the garden temple, originally graced the front door to the mansion.

Floored in moriah marble from near Lake Champlain on walls and trim, other marble French griotte, veined and spotted red marble- dark green from the Pyrenees, and port venere, verde maurin, and American black from Glen Falls, NY.

Right of vestibule, reception room paneled in black walnut, with FP red of vecchiano Italian marble. Elaborate ceiling reminiscent of fan vaulting in the Henry VII Chapel at Windsor Castle.

Far left of vestibule, breakfast room with FP Italian marble

Woodwork of hand polished English oak, as is much of the house. It is rumored that two ancient English oaken ships were towed to America and taken apart to provide the fine wood.

ATRIUM: ("Heart of House")

Side walls of rose of ivory marble from the atlas mountains of Africa. 16 pillars. Floor native white marble. Mexican onyx panels conceal electrical lights which gave the illusion of sunlight. Glass doors open upon a loggia above the terrace.

50 feet long entered through atrium beneath carved oak pillars. Dome shaped ceiling, 42 feet above. Carved oak seats. Formerly the home of a massive custom built organ, which was removed. Balcony from the second floor; third floor window can be opened and adjusted so the upper rooms are flooded with music. Small shelved room for storing sheet music. Acoustically designed.

Moorish style paneled in antique oak with FP French groitte and Belgian black marble. Opening to private porch for breakfasting.

Note the original call buttons and dumbwaiter.

Louis XIV drawing room, in white and gold, brought from Paris in sections. Mantelpiece of Siena marble with bronze figures of Hercules. Ceiling was painting on canvas. Morning room on the Southeast paneled in dark oak. FP
of porte venere black and gold marble from near Spezzia with gold-bronze ornaments. The woodwork is embellished with real gold leaf. The fireplace, alone, was valued circa 1922 at $25,000.

Second Floor Details:
Upstairs hall served as a family living room. Ceiling said to be one modeled after a ducal palace in Venice (oak paneling).

Circular library with dark native oak.

East wing - Mrs. Hopkins suite
Mantel of bois d'orient and Siena marble in the sitting room. Smoking room on the west of verde maurin mantel.

The billiard room on 3rd floor is finished in butternut wood.

GUEST HOUSE: 6000 square feet comprised of meeting rooms, bedrooms, and apartment.

This is the copy I wrote for my B&B Lion Manor when I had another location picked out but with a little tweaking the copy could work well here...
The bottom line is the vision for Lion Manor is a playground for the wealthy. The Berkshires have luxury resorts but my vision is home. Despite the decadence our guests will feel at home.
They will forget they are at a hotel and will feel more like they are at a friends house. A really rich friend with a really BIG house...

With the addition of Lion Manor Bed and Breakfast, the town of Great Barrington MA has a stopover so stylish and tranquil that you'd want to visit even if The Berkshires weren't just around the corner.

Here you will find comfort, luxury, whimsy, happiness and fun all done in an elegant ribbon.

Our guest rooms invite lazy self-indulgence. Each is designed to transport you to a place where there are no deadlines, no meetings, no clients and certainly no stress.

All are appointed with the finest linen bedding and soft down pillows and fluffy down comforter.

Your private bathroom is well stocked with high end soaps and bath salts, oils, thirsty cotton towels and a towel warmer. You will also find complimentary robes.

For a touch of whimsy amongst all the elegance, along with top shelf brands your mini-bar is stocked with retro snacks, gummy bears, dots, licorice whips, mary janes, lollypops and bazooka gum. We have even teamed up with the Jones Soda Company to create a “Lion Manor Cola”.

Each morning you have the option of breakfast in bed, or you can mingle with the other guests in our elegant dining room. Our chef will prepare you an unforgettable breakfast.

We offer you all the elegance of a luxury boutique hotel combined with the more personal amenities found with a B&B or Inn.

What does that mean exactly?

It means here you are family.

Lion Manor is not just a place to visit. It’s our home.

You host, Diana Whittles calls Lion Manor home for herself and two small sons Patrick age 4 and Brian age 3. Humphrey the floppy Basset Hound also resides here though you will rarely see him as he sleeps all day.

We want it to feel like your home too. Consider us our second house in the country.

At Lion Manor we encourage you to come to breakfast in your pajamas. Kick off your shoes and sit in the living room. Browse our extensive library and curl up with a good book, fix yourself a snack in the guest kitchen, check out a DVD and take it to your room or just relax in our living room.

Up for a little more excitement but still don’t want to leave the Manor? Check out our well stocked game room complete with pool table, poker table, arcade style retro videogames, pinball machines, 62” plasma screen television with Xbox 360 Live and Wii & a cabinet stocked with puzzles and board games.

The common areas are elegant but comfortable. A lived in chic.

Large overstuffed velvet couches and loveseats with plush rugs invite you to relax in front of our fireplaces with a book, a glass of lemonade or a mug of hot chocolate.

Feel free to pursue your literary desires in our library decorated with stately leather couches, & deep armchairs.

Here you may borrow a book or a DVD from our library.

This room has a fireplace so on those cold snowy days curl up in one of our blankets and lose yourself in a good story.

Children are always welcome here and while we don’t offer babysitting services, we do have lots of ways to keep both toddlers and teenagers entertained.

We have lots of arts and craft supplies, scrap booking supplies, we have yarn and needles for knitting & our library of DVDs and books hasn‘t left the kids out. We have everything from G rated Disney to PG13 movies.

In our library we have board books & young adult readers, in our magazine collection we have included issues of Seventeen, Cosmo Girl, Teen People, Thrasher, ESPN, & Rolling Stone.

In the winter months we have an inflatable igloo and snowball makers and sleds and snowshoes. In the warmer months we will have picnics and tea parties and croquet and touch football on our lawn. Of course there is always our game room to keep them occupied. We feel we have mastered the balance between elegant and comfortable.

At 6:00pm each evening we offer cocktail hour and are available to assist with reservations and make recommendations for places to dine. When you return to Lion Manor at the end of the evening, be sure to stop by the living room for fresh baked cookies and a cup of coffee or tea.


A brick fence surrounds our beautiful 5 plus acres of gardens complete with a reflective pool, fountain and stately brick gazebo. We also have an in-ground pool with diving, and Jacuzzi. Inside you will find the elegance and glamor of an era gone-by.

We have only 7 guest rooms which allows us to give you the personal attention you deserve even when we are fully booked.

"Where is it:
Lion Manor is located in the heart of the Berkshires in Dalton, MA

Centrally Located:

Lion Manor is a short drive from all the great attractions and events the Berkshires has to offer.

We are

  • 5 miles from the local mall and movie multiplex
  • 5 miles to the Pittsfield Museum, home to the Little Cinema which showcases foreign and independent films
  • 4 miles from the Berkshire Lyric Theater, the oldest community music organization in the Berkshires as well as the premier professional-level community chorus in the Berkshires.
  • 4 miles from the Albany Berkshire Ballet Company
  • 4 miles from the Barrington Stage Company
  • 5 miles from The Shaker Mountain Opera
  • 11 miles from Shakespeare & Co
  • 4 miles from the Colonial Theater
  • 23 miles from Jacob’s Pillow
  • 19 miles to MassMoca
  • 17 miles to the Berkshire Theater Festival
  • 22 miles from the Williamstown Theater Festival
  • 19 miles from the Chester Theater
  • 2 miles to the Wachona Country Club for Golf
  • 13 miles from Bousquet Ski area
  • 8 miles from Brodie Ski
  • 14 miles from Jimmney Peak.

We are surrounded by excellent shopping and restaurants as well.

We are 1 hour from: Albany, NY
We are 2 hours from: Hartford, CT , Saratoga, NY, Boston, MA,

We are 3 hours + from: New York City

Amenities that go beyond the typical B&B will include:

  • Complimentary Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies upon arrival.
  • In Room Massage and spa services can be arranged with 24 hour notice
  • Luxury hypoallergenic soaps and bath oils are in each guest bath
  • We use allergen free laundry detergent and bleach alternative.
  • Iron, Ironing Board, Clothes Line.
  • Each guest room has a 4 cup coffee maker, electric kettle, & hot chocolate maker as well as a mini fridge stocked with bottled water, juices, sodas and snacks.
  • We can arrange to have the local newspaper delivered to your room each morning.
  • Clock Radio with dual alarm.
  • Ice Water and Glasses in the guests room at arrival & each evening.
  • Each private bathroom has a Kohler Sok Tub.
  • Each shower has a Kohler overhead 4 panel rain tile shower system
  • Robes in all rooms.
  • WIFI for internet use.
  • IPOD docking station.
  • 32” Flat Screen Television
  • DVD Player
  • All our beds are outfitted with 600 thread count sheets and the finest down feather bed, pillows and comforters.
  • Hypo-allergenic bedding is also available upon request.
  • Complimentary Cookies & Cupcakes throughout the day
  • Complimentary, Coffee, Teas and Hot Chocolate in the dining area
    Concierge Service is available
  • Breakfasts are made to order and can be delivered to guest rooms for breakfast In bed.
  • Picnics on the estate can be arranged
  • Pool has a lifeguard on duty
  • Our well stocked library has a wide spectrum of books as well as magazines and newspaper.
  • Complimentary portable cribs and bed rails for older children.
  • Daily fresh-baked muffins and fresh fruit.
  • A full sit down breakfast served from 7:00am -9:00am
  • Pet friendly facilities
  • Children friendly facilities
  • A guest linen closet. We will offer all the things a guest might need or have forgotten

Between the romantic and the family.

Come and experience it for yourself.

Finally, Mother Nature has a rival for the beauty in the Berkshires

1 comment:

james said...

one of the finest blog ever and thanks for sharing such a useful information.
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