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Madame Sherri's Castle Ruins | A Legendary Site in West Chesterfield, New Hampshire

It was a photo from our online gallery that sparked my interest: a sweeping, arched staircase constructed of stone, fallen leaves strewn along its steps, curving upward to end mid-air in the midst of a forest. It was titled simply “Madame Sherri Castle Ruins, Chesterfield, NH.” Castle ruins in New Hampshire? Now that’s something worth exploring!

Madame Sherri Castle Ruins

This photo, taken by Lindsey Ocker, sent us on our quest to explore Madame Sherri’s Castle Ruins

We weren’t planning on seeking out Madame Sherri’s castle last weekend, but as Jim and I cruised along Route 9 from Keene, New Hampshire, toward Brattleboro, Vermont, with no particular destination in mind, it seemed as good a time as any to make a detour. A quick Google search returned a site that listed the ruins’ location as Castle Road in Chesterfield, and off we went.

Truth be told, I was starting to think we might have missed it when Jim spotted the sign for the “Madame Sherri Forest” marking the parking-lot entrance. After a quick perusal of the map at the information kiosk, we crossed the footbridge and headed in the direction of the Ann Stokes Loop — a trail extending almost two miles through both the Madame Sherri Forest and the Cook Town Forest. When the path split, we veered right, catching our first glimpse of the ruins, and within minutes, were at the foot of the massive stairway.

Madame Antoinette Sherri

It seems improbable, really. You wouldn’t expect to find the remains of a “castle” tucked into the southwest corner of the Granite State, yet there it is. Stories swirl around these ruins and its former occupant, but most folks in the area seem to agree on a few points: Madame Antoinette Sherri, a costume designer from New York, began buying land in the small village of Chesterfield, New Hampshire, in the late 1920s; she planned to build an extravagant summer home on the property. Her mantra, purportedly, was “Only the best,” and for years she threw wildly lavish parties at her “castle,” hosting an eclectic band of friends from the city. Until her money ran out, that is.

Madame Sherri’s Mansion

Madame Sherri eventually moved on, leaving the chateau to fall into disrepair, and it burned down on October 18, 1962. What remains today is the stonework from the staircase, the foundation, columns, and a fireplace. These medieval-looking ruins continue to spark the imagination of photographers, nature lovers, and more than a few ghost hunters. Legend has it that the lady herself has been spotted atop the grand staircase — which some refer to as the “stairway to heaven” — and that if you listen closely, you’ll hear the faint strains of laughter and music coming from the ruins.

While we didn’t hear or see anything supernatural on our visit, this is one stop not to miss if you’re traveling through southern New Hampshire.

Don't Miss ArrowArticle: Madame Sherri | New Hampshire’s Most Eccentric Resident?
Photograph: Share the photo of Madame Sherri’s Castle Ruins

Directions to Madame Sherri’s Castle Ruins on Gulf Road in West Chesterfield, New Hampshire

From New Hampshire:
Follow Rte. 9 to Rte. 63 South
Turn right on Stage Road
Bear left onto Castle Road
Castle Rd joins Gulf Road
Watch for the MME SHERRI FOREST sign and parking lot on the left.

From Vermont:
Take Rte. 9 East into New Hampshire
Turn right onto Gulf Road just after the Riverside Store along the Connecticut River
Gulf Road makes a hard left, if you end up following the river, you’ve missed the turn.
Watch for the MME SHERRI FOREST sign and parking lot on the right.

Learn More about the Madame Sherri Forest
Chesterfield Conservation Commission: The Madame Sherri Forest


Please Note: This information was accurate at the time of publication. When planning a trip, please confirm details by directly contacting any company or establishment you intend to visit.

Brenda Darroch


Brenda Darroch


Digital Editor Brenda Darroch creates and manages content for,, e-newsletters, and Yankee's search and social media initiatives. Connect with !

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21 Responses to Madame Sherri’s Castle Ruins | A Legendary Site in West Chesterfield, New Hampshire

  1. Kelly Stocking September 15, 2012 at 7:23 pm #

    It looks magical. I would love to visit sometime. I bet one’s imagination runs wild in a place like that.

  2. Eric Stanway April 30, 2013 at 9:05 am #

    I actually wrote a book on Madame Sherri last year. It’s been selling pretty briskly at the Toadstool Bookshop in Keene. Since the book was published, I came upon so much information that I’ve decided to put together a new edition, which will be much larger. If you want to talk to me on this subject, I can be reached at 603-585-6820.

    • Mary E. Lizie June 17, 2013 at 3:31 pm #

      We were amazed to visit the ruins. it’s great now to see what the actual building looked like then. So much speculation.

    • sandra carter June 22, 2014 at 9:36 pm #

      I would be very interested in your book. I have been there many timea. lived in Brattleboro, Vt, for several years

  3. Wendy October 22, 2013 at 9:59 am #

    Thanks for publishing this story about an eccentric woman who once lived on this now Forest Society reservation. This property you visited is actually owned and managed by The Society for the Protection of NH Forests. For a trail map and more information about the property please visit the Forest Society’s Online Guide to our Lands.

    I’m sorry that was missed in this lovely article.

    -Wendy Weisiger, Reservation Stewardship, Society for the Protection of NH Forests

    • Nancy Cavanaugh April 22, 2014 at 1:24 pm #

      I’m writing a fictional story based around these ruins. The pictures in this article as well as the book Eric wrote have been very useful in providing a much more colorful story. I hope to get to the site this spring to get my own pictures.

  4. rhonda Macleod October 24, 2013 at 9:11 am #

    thank you for pic and info.excited to go,cant wait hopen this weekend. :)

  5. Marcelle Oneail April 23, 2014 at 9:50 pm #

    My daughter and her friends (college students) went to this site. While touring the beautiful ruins they found a key and picked it up. Once they got back to the car, my daughter started thinking about scary tv shows and how they always say that a ghost can follow an item taken. So they decided it should be put back. They hiked back to the site. While my daughter was bending over to put the key back, her friends were taking a few last pictures with their phone when they saw something move..they snapped the picture, grabbed my daughter and ran to the car.
    The picture came out perfect… about 10 feet above the ground, a face is peeking around a tree…a face clear as day.
    If you can tell me how to post it….I’d be happy to do so.

    • Tiffany June 22, 2014 at 11:32 am #

      I would love to see that picture I love ghost stories of new hampshire any where really but especially Nh so if this pic is on you phone go to your gallery click on picture up in the corner their should be different symbols one of them will ask if you want to share the picture and then give you options facebook twitter phone contacts ect pick where you want to share it and it will post as long as you have internet accesas on your phone

    • Kp July 24, 2014 at 6:11 am #

      I would love to see that! Lol Im sure u can understand why I’m skeptical though?!

    • W. Mackin September 12, 2014 at 12:51 pm #

      Where is the picture? Could you email it to me? I could tell you the story of the challenge passed down from generations. There eas a guy who took the challenge. I met him a few years ago he was in his 50’s and got vy uncomfortable/scared and swears it was true happened to him.

    • Carol September 19, 2014 at 4:45 pm #

      Hi Marcellle…….did you ever share that ghost picture of the face that was taken?? I would lovely see it…..can you share please or let me know where to locate it…thanks so much!!! :)

  6. David Fiske May 21, 2014 at 10:06 am #

    I worked on the new (2014) book that Eric Stanway mentioned. It has much new information on Madame Sherri. The title is Madame Sherri – The Special Edition. Available from Amazon, etc.

  7. Jenny Lee Paiva June 22, 2014 at 4:24 pm #

    Thank You for sharing! I will surely be taking this journey!

  8. Karen M. June 26, 2014 at 3:15 pm #

    I’ve been there, done the whole ghost hunting thing. Nothing, not even an EVP. I even tried talking in French. Interesting place, but not haunted!

  9. Tom Duston June 26, 2014 at 7:11 pm #

    Those of you who have visited the site notice that there are two kiosks, one of which is empty. The latter will be filled with an insert summarizing the history of the site, including recent events/activities. We are waiting and will unveil it at the same time we unveil (hopefully) a new bridge. This should happen in September.

    When Geoff Jones took a group of ghost hunters up there they did smell the telltale peach smell!

    Tom Duston, Chair
    Chesterfield Conservation Commission (unofficial stewards of the Madame Sherri Forest for the Forest Society)

  10. Wendy September 18, 2014 at 10:43 am #

    While growing up in Keene, my friends and I found Mdm. Sherri’s and made it to be one of our party places. Several locals bands have played there and much fun has been had at these ruins. I am sure, if asked, it would be one of the best memories from mine and many of my friends childhood days growing up in Keene in the 60’s and early 70’s.

  11. Matthew October 12, 2014 at 8:13 am #

    My aunt and uncle built a house up the road from the ruins. Remember walking down to the castle when I was a kid.

  12. brian October 30, 2014 at 3:55 pm #

    When I was younger me and some friends went there. The story we were told was that if you go to the top of the stairs and call her a certain name 3 times, she will knock you off the stairs. So I tested this story. Nothing happened at the time. On our way home, the car we were in went off the road into the brook below. I had my seat belt on but some how went out the window face down in the brook with the car on my legs. I did return to say I was sorry 2 days later.

  13. John May 13, 2015 at 8:09 pm #

    I plan to visit the Madame Sherri Forest. How long (average time) would it take to explore? Also, is there a parking space for RV parking?

    • Brenda Darroch May 14, 2015 at 10:08 am #

      Hi John,
      We spent about an hour there wandering and taking pictures, but there’s not much to see or explore beyond what you see in the photos. There is a small parking lot, but I can’t recall whether it would accommodate an RV.

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