House Crazy Sarah has long been fascinated with the haunting case that was never truly solved. She’s read several books on the kidnapping and subsequent murder of Charles Lindbergh’s infant son.
The house at the center of the investigation was the site of the 1932 kidnapping of famed aviator Charles Lindbergh’s and Anna Morrow Lindbergh’s 20 month old son, Charles Junior.
Baby Charles was taken from his nursery on the second floor – presumably through the window and down a rickety ladder which was left behind at the site.
The toddler was missing for 2 months, then tragically, in May of 1932 his battered, decomposing body was found in a ditch only a couple of miles from the Lindbergh home.
A German-born carpenter (Bruno Richard Hauptmann) was tried and convicted of the kidnapping and murder of Charles Jr. and executed in 1936.
However, there are many competing theories that persist to this day; one being that Hauptmann was merely an innocent scapegoat or a peripheral figure in the crime that some other person or people committed. Some investigators and historians even go so far as to say that Charles Lindbergh himself was responsible for the death of his first-born son.
According to many historical accounts, Charles Lindbergh was one weird bird. Apparently, he used to play cruel pranks on his staff and sometimes kept his toddler son in a cage. Plus he was a known Nazi sympathizer.
In any case, the tragedy that happened to the little innocent boy is beyond comprehension.
The house where the kidnapping took place will be forever linked to that sad event in history.
Located in the once rural area of East Amwell, New Jersey, near the town of Hopewell, the sprawling two-story French-country style home was newly built in 1932 when the kidnapping occurred.
The house was situated on 700 acres of wooded land and cleared fields. Charles Lindbergh wanted a place that was far from the public eye, very private, and had enough cleared property for an airplane landing strip.
The property near Hopewell, New Jersey fit all the criteria plus it was very difficult to find, courtesy of numerous winding and branching country roads. Today, the area is populated with homes, farms and country estates, but back in the 1930’s it was quite isolated.
While the house was under construction in 1931, the Lindberghs spent most of their time at Anne’s parent’s estate in Englewood, New Jersey, which incidentally, looked a lot like the house Charles Lindbergh had built.
Charles and Anne drove out to their Hopewell house (which they named Highfields) to spend the weekends when it was nearing completion.
In fact, Charles Lindbergh and his wife, son and a handful of servants had just barely moved in prior to the kidnapping. That is what makes the kidnapping so baffling – no one other than very close associates and family members knew where Charles Lindbergh’s new house was. Even for those people, it was difficult to find the house, let alone know what room the baby was sleeping in.
The interior of the mansion was newly decorated at the time of the crime but had little furniture.
The large home had 23 rooms as well as an attached 3-car garage.
During the investigation, the Lindbergh house became command central for the detectives who worked the case. Apparently, they even slept there, along with various other guests whom Charles Lindbergh invited over to help with the investigation.
There are only a handful of grainy old photos of the interior of the house that were taken by investigators shortly after the kidnapping.
Below is the window where the kidnapper(s) reportedly exited with the baby:
And this is the actual crib from which baby Charles was taken during the night of March 1, 1932…
So sad to see that empty crib.
The nursery was on the second floor and many historians question the validity of the theory that a single man could climb down a thin ladder with a sleeping child under arm on a cold, windy and rainy night.
In 1933, just over a year after his son’s disappearance and murder, Charles Lindbergh gifted his Highfields estate near Hopewell to the state of New Jersey.
Today, the site of the infamous Lindbergh kidnapping is used as a residential treatment center for male juvenile offenders. It is still called Highfields.
Here are a few modern day photos that House Crazy Sarah fished up from the interwebs.
A den that is now a communal lounge:
A room that has been converted into a computer lab:
The upstairs hallway:
The former nursery:
This is the actual window where the kidnapper(s) apparently climbed into the nursery to snatch the little boy:
Today the estate is a little worse for the wear, but it continues to be used as a home for juvenile male offenders.
The fact that the former The Charles Lindbergh House in Hopewell New Jersey now serves to help rehabilitate troubled boys is sort of an ironic tribute to the home’s tragic past.
Intrigued by the Lindbergh kidnapping case? See the following websites for more details:
The Lindbergh Kidnapping: Did Charles Lindbergh Murder His Own Son?
Well done, Sarah!
Just reading about it all now..