Lemp Mansion

Lemp Mansion

Lemp Mansion is a house in St. Louis, Missouri. The ghosts of several Lemp family members are said to haunt the mansion.

Architectural history

The house was built in 1868 by St. Louisian Jacob Feickert. William J. Lemp and his wife, Julia, moved into it in 1876. In 1911, the house underwent major renovations including conversion of some space into offices for the Lemp Brewery. The Lemps lived in the house until 1949 when Charles Lemp committed suicide.

In 1950, the mansion became a boarding house; throughout the next decade, it lost much of its ornate charm. The construction of Interstate 55 during the 1960s led to the destruction of much of the grounds and one of the carriage houses.

The current owners, the Pointer family, purchased the house in 1975 and have since renovated much of it as the Lemp Mansion Restaurant and Inn.

Lemp family history

Adam Lemp and the Western Brewery

The original patriarch of the Lemp Family was Johann "Adam" Lemp, born in 1798 in Grüningen, Germany. [ [http://lemplager.com/lemp/history.asp Rise of the Lemp Dynasty] ] He became a naturalized citizen in November 1841. [ [http://www.krausehouse.ca/Krause/Archives%20Guide%20A-Z%20(WP).htm Lemp Family Papers, Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis] ] He arrived in the United States in 1836, eventually settling in St. Louis in 1838. In the St. Louis city directory of 1840-41, he is listed as a grocer.

Lemp started a grocery store at Sixth and Morgan, a site now occupied by the middle of the south side of the Edwards Jones Dome. In addition to typical groceries, Lemp sold his own vinegar and beer. By 1840 he focused solely on the manufacture and sale of the beer, forming Western Brewery at 37 South Second Street (about where the south leg of the Arch now stands). The business prospered, and when a large storage space became necessary, a cave in south St. Louis was used for this purpose as it provided natural refrigeration. The cave was below the current locations of the Lemp and DeMenil Mansions and the Lemp Brewery.

By the 1860s there were 40 breweries in the St. Louis area taking advantage of the caves along the Mississippi, with the Western Brewery emerging as one of the most successful.

William J. Lemp Sr. - the first suicide

Adam's son William J. Lemp was born in Germany in 1836. After completing his education at St. Louis University, he worked at the Western Brewery until he left the company to form a partnership with another brewer. In 1861, he enlisted in the United States Reserve Corps, and achieved the rank of Orderly Sergeant. On December 3, 1861, he married Julia Feickert.

On August 23, 1862, Adam Lemp died, and William returned to the Western Brewery as owner and operator. In 1864 he began building a larger brewery above the caves where Western had been storing its goods.

Under William Lemp, the Western Brewery became the largest brewery in St. Louis, and then, the largest outside of New York with a single owner. William began to brew and bottle the beer in the same facility to meet growing demand, a practice that was rare at that time. Further demonstrating his innovativeness and business sense, in 1878 he installed the first refrigeration machine in an American brewery, and then extended the idea to refrigerated railway cars in a successful attempt to be the first beer in the United States with a national reach. Soon, Lemp Beer was sold worldwide.

In 1892, the William J. Lemp Brewing Company was founded from the Western Brewery with William as President, his son William Jr. as Vice-President, and his son Louis as Superintendent.

William J. "Billy" Lemp, Jr., was born on August 13, 1867. Like his father, he went to St. Louis University and then studied the art of brewing. However, it was William Sr.'s fourth son, Frederick, born in 1873, whom he hoped to groom to take over the company. Unknown to William Sr. and his family, Frederick had significant health problems, which ended his life on December 12, 1901. William Sr. became despondent and slowly declined. On the morning of February 13, 1904, at approximately 9:30 a.m., he shot himself in the head in his upstairs bedroom and died at about 10:15 a.m.

William J. Lemp, Jr., and the "Lavender Lady"

On November 7, 1904, William J. "Billy" Lemp, Jr., took over the brewing company as president. Billy had married Lillian Handlan, the "Lavender Lady", five years earlier, and they moved to a new home at 3343 South Thirteenth Street.

Lillian filed for divorce in 1908, charging Billy with desertion, cruel treatment and indignities. The divorce proceedings lasted 11 days and ended in an award to Lillian of the divorce and custody of William III, their only child, with Billy being given visitation rights.

After the trial, Billy built "Alswel", his country home overlooking the Meramec River, in what is now the western edge of Kirkwood. By 1914 he lived there full-time and started to lose interest in the brewery.

Elsa Lemp Wright

The second Lemp suicide was Elsa Lemp Wright, the youngest child of William Sr. In 1910 she married Thomas Wright, president of the More-Jones Brass and Metal Company. They separated in 1918 and in February, 1919, Elsa filed for divorce citing, among other things, damage to her mental and physical health. The divorce was granted after a trial, but Elsa and Thomas soon reconciled and remarried in March 1920. Later that month, on March 20, while suffering from insomnia, Elsa shot herself in the heart while in bed at their house at 13 Hortense Place.

Her brothers Billy and Edwin later arrived at the house, where Billy is reported to have commented, "That's the Lemp family for you".

Prohibition and the suicide of Billy Lemp

The Lemp Brewery was suffering in the 1910s. Billy's lack of interest in the company had led to decreased sales. When Prohibition began, rather than keep the brewery going, he simply gave up and shut the plant down, never to reopen. The Falstaff trademark was sold to Lemp's friend, "Papa Joe" Griesedieck. The brewery itself was eventually sold at auction to International Shoe Company for pennies on the dollar.

The events depressed Billy, and his behavior began to change. On December 29, 1922, he shot himself in the heart in his office (now the front left dining room where a painting of his ex-wife hangs).

William Lemp III and the end of Lemp Beer

In 1939, William J. Lemp III, the only son of Billy, licensed the Lemp name to Central Breweries of East St. Louis. Central Breweries renamed itself the WIlliam J. Lemp Brewing Company and began a grand marketing campaign resulting in phenomenal sales of the new Lemp Beer. Its success was short-lived, and soon the contract was terminated by Ems Brewing, which bought out Lemp in 1945.

Charles Lemp, the fourth suicide

Charles Lemp was the final Lemp to live in the mansion, starting in 1929. He was the third son of William Sr.

After leaving the brewery in 1917, he went into banking and finance and also dabbled in politics, influencing many south side wards. He never married and lived alone in the mansion with two servants, a married couple.

On May 10, 1949, he shot himself in the head, leaving the following note: "St. Louis Mo/May 9, 1949, In case I am found dead blame it on no one but me. Ch. A. Lemp". This is the only suicide note in the family history.

Edwin, the final Lemp

After Charles' death, the only surviving son of William Sr. was Edwin Lemp. (Louis Lemp, the second oldest son, had died of natural causes in 1931.) Edwin, the youngest son, had worked in the brewery until 1913. He then retired at "Cragwold", the estate he had built overlooking the Meramac in 1911. "Cragwold", in western Kirkwood, had an observation tower, two servants' houses, and a collection of birds, antelope, sheep, yaks, buffalo and other animals. After his retirement, Edwin dedicated himself to many charitable causes, primarily the St. Louis Zoo.

In 1970, Edwin died at the age of 90, having been reticent about his family's tragedies for years. His final order to his caretaker was to destroy his art collection and family heirlooms.


The Lemp Mansion is famed as one of the nation's most haunted buildings. In the 1980s, it was ranked in the top nine haunted places by "Life Magazine". Reputed paranormal incidents include doors opening, shutting, locking, and unlocking on their own; candles lighting on their own; and a glass flying off a bar and crashing to the floor. Visitors to the mansion have reported feeling as if they are being watched, or sensing an atmosphere of sadness, and some claim to have seen apparitions of members of the Lemp family. One report says that, during the mansion's restoration, a painter working on a mural felt that he was being watched and immediately fled the mansion, without washing his brushes or taking out his equipment, and never returned.

Various groups have held seances in the mansion, and reported that most of the paranormal activity is related to the ghost of Charles Lemp. Ghosts of other family members, including Lillian (the Lavender Lady), have also reportedly been seen.

In popular culture

MTV once used the tunnels below Lemp Mansion and the former Lemp Brewery as a location on their short-lived reality show, "FEAR", disguising it as "The Boettger Brewery".

ee also

* Caves of St. Louis
* Lemp Brewery
* Falstaff Brewing Company


* "Lemp: The Haunting History" by Stephen P. Walker (1988)

External links

* [http://www.lempmansion.com/ The Lemp Mansion Restaurant and Inn]
* [http://www.thecabinet.com/darkdestinations/location.php?sub_id=dark_destinations&letter=l&location_id=the_lemp_mansion Dark Destinations - The Lemp Mansion]
* [http://www.hauntedamericatours.com/hauntedhouses/LempMansion/ Missouri's Most Haunted House?] by Karen Stollznow
* [http://www.krausehouse.ca/Krause/Archives%20Guide%20A-Z%20(WP).htm Lemp Family Papers, Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis]

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