Deep in the woods of Chesterfield, New Hampshire, lies the mysterious ruins of a castle. As we picked our way through the forest, my friend MaryJane and I could easily imagine music lilting through the bare winter trees, harking back to the vaudeville days. If the earth can absorb the energy of the lives surrounding it, this land resonated with a party atmosphere.
Madame Antoinette Cherri was born in France in 1878, spending her early years as a music hall singer. After marrying the son of an Italian diplomat, she and her much younger husband, Andre, moved to New York City in 1911. It was there she began working as a costume designer, outfitting the Ziegfeld Follies and other Broadway productions of the era. Their costume shop became famous for its outlandish designs.
(Above) Madame Antoinette Cherri. Photo courtesy of the Brattleboro Historical Society.
Not long after her husband died in 1927, Madame Cherie purchased a plot of property in Chesterfield where she built her extravagant summer home. While she called it her castle, the structure was little more than an ornate twostory home with a winding stone archway leading to the second floor. It was there where she hosted elaborate parties during the days of Prohibition that the locals wouldn’t soon forget.
(Above) A photo of Madame Cherri’s “castle” during its heydays. Photo courtesy of the Brattleboro Historical Society.
“Only the best,” became her mantra as she entertained friends from Broadway, enjoying the best that life had to offer. Known as an eccentric, she often met her guests at the top of the stone steps, dressed in Broadway finery. A handsome young driver sometimes drove her and her pet monkey around town in her custom beige Packard, while she wore nothing but a fur coat. Even though Madame Cherri was loved by the community, rumors of prostitution and illicit happenings kept the town intrigued.
(Above) A photo of the stone staircase when it was intact. Photo courtesy of the Brattleboro Historical Society.
In the 1950’s, Madame Cherri moved to a Brattleboro nursing home and left her castle behind. In October of 1968, the building was destroyed by a fire, leaving nothing but the stone foundation and grand staircase behind. Madame Cherri died penniless in 1965 at the age of eighty four as a ward of the state.
Being a paranormal investigator, I was drawn to the ruins because of the legends. Rumors have circulated for years that the property is haunted. People often hear music and smell a woman’s perfume. A few guests have seen Madame Cherri herself descending the stone steps, decked out in the finery of her era.
Since the ruins are now located within the 448 acre Wantastiquet Monadnock Greenway, finding a moment of quiet was difficult. Hikers walked past us at a regular rate, some even stopping to snap a few photos of the staircase.
Using my SB7 Spirit Box, which is essentially a radio set to rapidly sweep the stations, I hoped to capture a ghostly voice. I allowed the Spirit Box to move through the stations several times before I asked my first question. I wanted to insure we wouldn’t pick up any stray radio signals, which we didn’t. “Who lived here?” I asked. The response was undeniable. “Madame Cherri,” came the answer, spoken by a male. We didn’t get any further replies to our inquiries, but it did answer the one question I hoped to answer. Was Madame
Cherri’s castle ruins haunted?
Listen to the audio recording below and judge for yourself.