EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 24, 2013

Searles renovations get boost from benefit

By John Toole

---- — WINDHAM — A benefit at Harvest Fest, the town’s fall festival, raised $400 to help renovate Searles School and Chapel.

Supporters of the renovation campaign operated a bingo cage game where people took chances to win gift certificates from about 20 Windham and Salem businesses.

Margaret Case, a former selectman who is heading up the fund drive with her husband Tom, yesterday offered a public thanks to citizens and businesses that participated.

“It was a beautiful day and over $400 was raised for the restoration fund,” Case said.

The campaign has brought in about $23,000 since it launched last spring, she estimated.

The Cases organized the campaign, with the blessing of town officials, after voters rejected a warrant article for $100,000 in renovations at Town Meeting.

The Cases seeded the campaign with nearly $5,000 of their own money.

Crews are painting the exterior of the landmark.

This summer, workers replaced windows in the building.

Case said tower renovations will begin soon.

“We are very, very pleased by the contributions,” she said.

Many have been in amounts of $50 to $100, Case said.

Saving the Searles School and Chapel is important to the Cases and others in town.

“It’s a very special building,” she said.

The Tudor-style building is located just south of Route 111. It has a large tower, arched doorways, cypress paneling and stained glass.

The town acquired the property in a deal with Edward F. Searles in 1909. He built Searles Castle on nearby Searles Road.

The town lets people rent Searles School for weddings and other events.

People still can help with renovations. Contributions should be sent to Searles Fund, P.O. Box 120, Windham, 03087.

“Please help us restore this town treasure,” Case said.