Named by Life Magazine in 1980 as one of the most haunted places in America, Lemp Mansion has seen its share of family tragedy and misfortune.
The Patriarch of the Lemp Family, Adam Lemp, was born in Germany in 1798. He opened a grocery store in St. Louis in 1838, and soon afterwards began brewing beer. He started a brewery in 1840, and developed the Falstaff line.
In 1836, Adam’s son, William Lemp, was born. After graduating from St. Louis University, he joined his father at the brewery until Adam’s death in 1862, when he took it over. William married Julia Feickert in 1861, and they had nine children. William was very successful at the brewing business, becoming the largest brewer in St. Louis by 1875.
William Jr. was born in 1867. He attended Washington University and the United States Brewers Academy. He was considered to be a rather flamboyant fellow, and married the eccentric Lillian Handlan in 1899. They had one child, William III. Their marriage was tumultuous, and the resulting divorce was a much-publicized affair.
William III was born in 1900. He married in 1928, and divorced in 1937. In 1939, he attempted to again brew beer, but had severe financial difficulties, and was unable to make it a success. He died in 1942.
William Jr.’s sister, Hilda, married Gustav Pabst in 1897. Gustav was the son of a famous Milwaukee Brewer, Fred Pabst. Fred was also Hilda’s father’s dearest friend.
Another “Fred” figures greatly in this story as his death was the beginning of the tragedies in the Lemp family. William Jr.’s brother, Fred, was born in 1873. He attended Washington University and the U.S. Brewers Academy. He was an intelligent, hardworking young man, and had a bright future ahead of him. Unfortunately, he became ill and died in 1901 at the age of 28.
Fred’s parents were devastated. Then, when William’s dear friend, Fred Pabst passed away a few years later, William was unable to recover from the losses. His health deteriorated, and he lost interest in his business. William shot himself in the head February 13, 1904.
William and Julia’s youngest child, Elsa, was born in 1883. She married Thomas Wright, president of a St. Louis metal company, in 1910. Elsa and Thomas had a very turbulent relationship, and divorced in 1919. On March 8, 1920, Elsa and Thomas remarried. Eleven days later, suffering from depression, Elsa shot herself in the chest. The second suicide in the Lemp family.
Because of Prohibition, William Jr. finally had to close the Brewery and sell it to the highest bidder in 1922. William Jr. became so despondent over the loss that he shot himself in the chest on December 29, 1922, becoming the third suicide in the Lemp family.
Charles Lemp, another brother of William Jr., worked in real estate, banking, and investments. He was also interested in politics. He never married, and moved back into the Mansion in 1929. In 1949, at the age of 77, failing in health, Charles became depressed and shot himself in the head. Some sources report that he first shot and killed his dog. Charles was the only one of the four who left a note stating: “In case I am found dead blame it on no one but me.”
Edwin, the youngest son of William Lemp, left the brewery at a young age because he felt that there was “no need to make more money.” He built an estate of 140 acres, Cragwold, near Kirkwood, Missouri, and kept a huge private collection of animals there. He died in 1970.
The mansion became a dilapidated boarding house for years, until the mid-70's when it was purchased and renovated into a restaurant and inn by Richard Pointer.
During the renovation of Lemp Mansion, many workers complained that they always felt they were being watched. Claude Breckwoldt, a St. Louis artist, left abruptly because he couldn’t stand the feeling of being observed when he was alone. Family members and employees have reported that the television turns on and off by itself. Doors and drawers open and close. Lights turn on and off. One time a candle lit on its own. A wine glass was observed jumping into the air and crashing to the floor. Buttons have popped off of the clothes of patrons at the restaurant. There have been ghostly sounds of horse hooves on cobblestones (which ultimately led to the discovery of some old cobblestones). The sound of a dog barking in the mansion has also been reported. A piano plays by itself, and a disembodied voice sometimes says, “Hi Mom.”
There is no doubt that many consider Lemp Mansion to be haunted. My daughter and I stayed there one night with the entire mansion to ourselves. The food was fantastic, and our room was lovely. Ghosts? Well, I’ll be telling you all about our experience at a later time, so be sure and check back. If you’ve stayed at Lemp Mansion, I would love to hear about your experience. Please send me an email or let us know about it in the community forum.
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