Real Haunted Houses: The Lemp Mansion
The house was built in 1868 and first occupied by William J. Lemp and his wife, Julia in 1876. The house went through major renovations in 1911, during which some spaces were converted into offices for the Lemp Brewery. The William J. Lemp Brewing Co. dominated the St. Louis beer market with its Falstaff beer brand for several decades.
The Lemp Family: First Suicide
William J. Lemp, aka William Sr., had four sons to take over his brewery business. His son William Jr. was vice-president, his second son Louis was spuerintendent. His third son also joined him in the brewery business but it was allegeledy his fourth son, Frederick, who William wanted to leave the family business to.
Frederick however, suffered from severe health problems that he kept from his family. on December 12, 1901, he died of heart failure resulting from these health issues.
William Sr.’s own health declined following his son’s death. On January 1, 1904 his best friend Frederick Pabst died, causing another major blow.
On the morning of February 13, 1904, William Sr. committed suicide by gunshot, and died at 10:15 a.m. on this tragic day.
The Lemp Family: Second Suicide
On November 7, 1904, William J. “Billy” Lemp Junior, the oldest son of the family’s patriarch, took over the brewing company of his late father. Billy’s life was filled wiht one tragedy after the next. His wife, Lillian Handlan Lemp, nicknamed “The Lavender Lady” because she often dressed in this color and drove around in a lavender-colored carriage, filed for divorce in 1980. She was granted the divorce and custody of William III, their only child.
After the trial, Billy built his country home near the Meramec River, nicknamed “Alswel”, where he lived full-time from 1914 onwards.
In the early 1920s, when Prohibition began, the Lemp Brewery suffered immensely. It was eventually shutdown and sold at action. Not able to cope with this other devastating loss, Billy Lemp shot himself in his office at the original family home.
The Lemp Family: Third Suicide
Billy’s youngest sister, and youngest child of William Sr., was named Elsa Lemp. She married Thomas Wright, president of the More-Jones Brass and Metal Company in 1910, changing her name to Elsa Lemp Wright.
In 1918, the couple seperated, and in 1919, Elsa filed for divorce, citing damage to her mental and physical health. The divorce was granted but soon after, Elsa and Thomas reconciled and even remarried in March 1920.
Later that month however, Elsa shot herself while in bed, another tragic suicide in a tragic family history.
The Lemp Family: Fourth Suicide
Charles Lemp, the third son of William Sr., left the brewery in 1917 to go into banking, finance and politics. Charles never married and lived with his dog in his the Lemp family mnasion.
On May 10, 1949, Charles Lemp shot his dog and then himself in the head, leaving only a very brief suicide note.
After the Lemps
After the death of Charles Lemp, the house was sold and used as a boarding house. It’s then that the stories of hauntings began. Residents complained about phantom footsteps and disembodied voices.
Currently, it has been restored and turned into a restaurant and bed & breakfast.
The last Lemp left, Edwin Lemp, avoided his own family home and the Lemp Brewery at all cost and moved to a secluded estate in Kirkwood in 1913. He lived until the age of 90 and passed away quietely in 1970.
Edwin Lemp’s last request was to have the art collection of the Lemps burned, and all the priceless family heirlooms burned with them. The butler complied with his master’s final request.
Ghosts and Legends
With four possible Lemp family members to haunt the house, you would think there’s a plethora of ghosts to choose from.
However, one of the most persistent legends about the Lemp family home, is that of the “Monkey Face Boy”, an illegitimate child of William Jr. Lemp, who was apparently hidden i nthe attic quarters of the house. A St. Louis historian by the name of Joe Gibbons apparenlty interviewed a former nanny and driver who worked at the house, and who attested to the “Monkey Face Boy” being a real child who was born with Down’s syndrome.
This child was buried on the Lemp Cemetery Plot with only a small flat marker on his grave, with the word “Lemp” on it. Legend says that while Charles Lemp, William Jr.’s younger brother, lived at the house, he also cared for William Jr.’s illigitimate child. Only after the boy’s death, did Charles take his own life.
The mansion is open for visits, as it’s currently a bed and breakfast, and a restaurant. Many of the guests have reported ghostly visitations or a general feeling of being “creeped out” while visiting.
Are you brave enough to spend the night?