Madame Sherri lived in West Chesterfield, New Hampshire where she built a castle and enjoyed entertaining. She had an eccentric personality and a penchant for deceit.
Antoinette Bramare was born in Paris around 1878. She found work as a seamstress mundane, changed her name to Antonia De Lilas and became a dance hall performer. In 1909 she married André Riela, a man many years her junior claiming to be a diplomat’s son, but who was actually a petty criminal. They moved to New York where André danced and Antonia designed costumes. She opened a millinery shop and became known as Madame Sherri. Business thrived and she hired, Charles LeMaire, who eventually became a sought-after costume designer in Hollywood, and secretly financed Antonia’s exploits later in life.
When André died in 1924, Madame Sherri began to summer in West Chesterfield where she attended wild parties which defied prohibition. She purchased land and a farmhouse there. In 1931 she built another outlandish invention, Castle Sherri, a three story structure with a stone staircase running up the outside of the building. She never lived there but used it to entertain, throwing lavish parties. She enjoyed being queen of the ball, dressing in sequined gowns and flashy fake jewelry. Locals had never seen anything like this.
But her life was an illusion. She actually lived in her farmhouse without running water or a telephone. Times changed and she became too old to play the ingénue. Money from LeMaire stopped coming and she ended up in the poor house. Her “castle” burned in 1962. All that remains is the stone structure, including the whimsical staircase. Madame Sherri died in 1965, the day her land was sold at a sheriff’s sale.
Audio Production: Lissa Weinmann
Written by: Robert Weir
Narrated by: Molly Melloan
Edited by: Sally Seymour
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