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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.

Photo/Art by Photo Courtesy of Brattleboro Historical SocietyMadame 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.

Photo/Art by Photo Courtesy of Brattleboro Historical SocietyMadame 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

 

Brenda Darroch

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Brenda Darroch

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Digital Editor Brenda Darroch creates and manages content for YankeeMagazine.com, YankeeFoliage.com, e-newsletters, and Yankee's search and social media initiatives. Follow Brenda Darroch on !
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7 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.

  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. http://www.forestsociety.org.

    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.

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