A park with fascinating ruins and history dating back to the roaring 1920's.
The ruins that remain today were part of an enchanting summer house, home to Madame Sherri (Antoinette Bramare). Born in Paris in 1878, Antoinette trained as a seamstress and danced at French clubs in the early 1900s. She met her husband Anthony Macaluso in 1909 but as he was a fugitive of the law they ended up leaving Paris and sailing to New York City together. Once settled Antoinette opened a textile designing shop on 42nd Street which made costumes for Broadway productions.
As the couple grew further into the scene so did their success and in 1916 Antoinette changed her name to 'Andre-Sherri' and went by Sherri for short in hopes to excel her business career further. Her husband made himself a career as a dancer and she became a prominent costume designer for the period until 1924. At this point, her husband's chronic illness succumbed to him leaving him blind, mentally insane, and institutionalized until his death later that year. Sherri was devastated by this loss and left the theatre scene entirely. A stage friend of hers invited her up to Chesterfield, New Hampshire where he held parties for those in the NYC theatre scene.
These parties inspired Sherri who in 1929 bought 600 acres of property in Chesterfield and begun construction on her elaborate summer home. The home was a design mix of Roman ruins and French chalet style with many intricate features like live trees popping through the roof, stone staircases, and large bars. Interestingly enough this house was only for parties as she lived in a small farmhouse across the street.
Madame Sherri's party ended towards the end of WWII with her money drying out and several failed attempts and schemes to recoup the wealth she once had. Her poverty led her to move away and live off the support of old friends in Quechee, Vermont. By the time she finally returned to the property in Chesterfield in 1959 the house had been so badly vandalized that it was not worth salvaging. The rest of the property burned away from a fire in 1962 leaving only what remains on the property today.
The Madame Sherri Forest is a 513-acre property that is congruent with another 847-acre property, the Wantastiquet State Forest. Together these parks make up numerous options to hike and add additional mileage too. The most popular is the Ann Stokes Loop which is a 2-mile loop trail from the parking lot that takes you to Indian Pond as well as a couple of viewpoints along the way. For additional mileage, the Daniel's Mountain (great name but no relation lol) loop can be added in as well as the Wantastiquet Mtn Trail. Trail Map in the link below.
Getting There and Important Information
The forest is located close to the Vermont and New Hampshire border in West Chesterfield, New Hampshire. The area close to the forest is a lot of tight winding gravel roads and no cell service. The parking lot can fit about a dozen cars and no parking options are available on the street, however, the forest does have multiple parking options which make it accessible. The ruins are located at the main Madame Sherri Forest parking so parking anywhere else would require a mile plus hike to reach the ruins.
History provided by the Chesterfield NH Historical Society. Full detail of the story and life of Madame Sherri can be found here.
©Copyright 2020 Dan Oliver
Photography exclusively by Dan Oliver unless otherwise stated and cited. Embedded maps are provided by Embed Google Map (embedgooglemap.net) and map images shown are provided as stated and cited.
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