Ridgedale Avenue and Summerhill Park
Ridgedale Avenue and Fairview Avenue Madison, New Jersey 07940
Madison, New Jersey, was the town for millionaires such as the Vanderbilts to build their estates in and maintain commutable proximity to New York City. The town became known as “The Rose City” because the country’s finest roses were grown here. Today, the serene park setting located on Ridgedale Avenue is the facade that masks the once-formidable Kluxen Winery.
On October 7, 1921, the suburban community was stunned by the brutal murder of 12-year-old Jeanette Lawrence. She was last seen alive that night waving goodbye to Mrs. Sandt, the woman whose 4-year-old daughter she babysat. Her body was found at 7:30 p.m. in the woods by Chauncey Griswold and Walter Schultz, local Boy Scouts who were helping in the hunt to find the missing girl.
Although arrested and tried for the murder, Francis Peter Kluxen III was acquitted. The story of her murder, his trial, and local politics reads like a made-for-television miniseries, and to this day, the case is “unsolved.”
Over the years, reports of seeing Jeanette’s ghost making her fateful trip home from her babysitting job on Ridgedale Avenue have been made by motorists who travel along Ridgedale and Fairview Avenues.
The New Jersey Ghost Hunters Society investigation included an interview with a family whose house is located across the street from the haunted Kluxen woods on Central Avenue. The family’s son witnessed a little girl ghost who fits the description of Jeanette in their house. Their further investigation of the woods and surrounding streets did nothing more than to secure a few photos with orbs in them. Daytime photography of the woods shows the foundation remains of the Kluxen Winery.