Saturday, March 8, 2014

Madame Sherri's Castle Ruins

Clover looks out into the forest from the spiral staircase
After attending the Harris Hill Ski Jump, Clover hopped across the river to West Chesterfield, NH, to visit the ruins of Madame Sherri's castle.

Trail markers are helpful in winter when the paths are hidden by snow
Madame Sherri's Forest spans 513 acres on the western side of Wantastiquet Mountain. There are trails that lead to a picturesque pond, and longer trails lead you to fantastic views of Brattleboro from the top of Wantastiquet. Madame Sherri's castle ruins are easily accessed from the parking lot off Gulf Rd.

When you arrive at Madame Sherri's castle ruins from Gulf Rd, the first thing you see is the curvy stone arched staircase to nowhere.

Madame Sherri (born Antoinette De Lilas) was a music hall singer in Paris before moving to New York City as a newlywed in 1911. She and her husband Andre Riela adopted the name "Sherri" and became theatrical costume designers. During the Prohibition Era the couple would spend time in Chesterfield, NH partying with their friends. When her husband passed away in the early 20s, Madame Sherri bought the land you see here and spared no expense having a summer home built to host lavish parties.

A view of the foundation at the back of the castle
Madame Sherri's foreign accent, pet monkey, eccentric dress (she was known to wear a fur coat and nothing else!) and entourage of New York City celebrities and socialites gave the locals a lot to gossip about. Rumour has it "Madame" ran a brothel at her castle.

But eventually the money ran out, the parties ended, and Madame Sherri spent the last years of her life at a rest home in Brattleboro. Her castle fell into disrepair and was destroyed by a fire in October 1962. Madame Sherri died a few days after the fire.

A stone arch in the castle's foundation

Only the stone foundation, stairs and a fireplace remain, but some people say you can see Madame Sherri's ghost floating down the stairs in an elegant gown, and that you can hear music and laughter from parties long ago.

Madame Sherri's castle ruins are worth visiting in summer and in fall. In the summer you can see more of the foundation (there's several feet of snow covering the grounds in these photos). In the fall, the autumn leaves on the stones make for a colourful backdrop and really bring out the drama of this legendary site.

Clover's ears didn't pick up any music, but she did feel the magic in this place, and while she doesn't think humans should wear fur, she certainly knows the joy of having nothing but fur on.

And a wonderfully bold red lip. Every labbit needs a bold red lip. 

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