So being that Halloween is just around the corner, I thought it would be time to share a unique hike that is just a few minutes away from our Inn in Brattleboro. The hike is in the Madame Sherri Forest in Chesterfield, New Hampshire (which is just over the bridge from Brattleboro – directions below).
The 448-acre forest is part of the Wantastiquet-Monadnock Greenway, a series of trails connecting the mountains of southwestern New Hampshire and includes a trail which connects to the Mount Wantastiquet State Forest. (See our hike up Mount Wantastiquet). The forest is named for the eccentric Madame Antoinette Sherri, who built a European chateau on Gulf Road in Chesterfield back in 1924.
Madame Sherri was a music hall singer in Paris in the early 1900′s. She married Andre Riela in Paris and they relocated to America in 1911 to join his family here. Madame Sherri and her husband became prominent theatrical costume designers and ran a successful costume shop in New York City. They are actually cited as having taught Charles LeMaire (the noted Hollywood costume designer) the art of costuming. During the Prohibition Era, Madame Sherri and her husband would travel to Chesterfield NH to “party” with friends of theirs from the Broadway scene. After her husbands death in NY in 1924, Madame Sherri purchased a farm in the area she had grown to love, on Gulf Road in Chesterfield. Her plan was to build herself a summer home. The exotic stone castle that she ended up having built in the woods, as well as her unique touring car (a cream colored Packard), her French accent, and of course the numerous interesting visitors from the theatrical world kept local gossips busy for years. Her pet monkey and her frequent chauffered rides around Brattleboro wearing nothing but a fur coat certainly added to the mystery and intrigue around this interesting woman. Rumors persist that Madame Sherri ran a brothel from the castle.
In the 1950s the home was abandoned as Madame Sherri grew older and moved to Brattleboro’s Maple Rest home. The stone castle had been abandoned and neglected for years when it was destroyed by a fire in October 1962. Madame Sherri herself died three years later, at the age of 84. To this day visitors report hearing voices, music and the sounds of parties from a time long passed. Occasionally a visitor will even encounter the ghost of Madame Sherrie, beautiful and young, gracefully descending the stone stairway which still stands today.
To get to Madame Sherri’s forest from our Brattleboro Inn, take a left from the driveway and head to the traffic circle. At the circle, bear right onto Route 9 west to Chesterfield. Just after you cross the bridge into New Hampshire, make a right onto the first street (Mountain Road). Then take your first (immediate) left which will put you onto Gulf Road. Travel up the scenic Gulf Road for just a little more than two miles; Madame Sherri’s Forest is on the right. There is a small parking area. Cross the footbridge and head up the hill for to see the stone stairs…