When Johann Adam Lemp, moved to St. Louis in 1838, he found that the biggest sellers in the small store he opened were vinegar and beer. He started making both himself, and as his new, lighter, and very un-European style of beer, called ‘lager,’ gained popularity, opened a pub next to his brewery and stopped producing vinegar. Soon, the beer produced by Lemp’s Western Brewing Company was sold all over the region under the name ‘Falstaff.’
After Adam’s death, his son William expanded the brewery, becoming the first brewer to distribute his beer coast to coast. In 1876, William and his wife Julia bought a piece of property near the brewery to use as a home and auxiliary office. They expanded the property into the show place of its era. The house was built atop a series of caves used in the brewing process, and through these caves, one could walk underground from the house to the brewery.
Following two tragedies – the death of his 28-year-old son and heir, Frederick, and the death of his close friend Frederick Pabst, William was said to have succumbed to depression and mental illness, and killed himself in his office. His son William Jr. took over the company, but sold it for a fraction of its worth during Prohibition. After a series of personal and professional setbacks, including the unresolved apparent suicide of his sister, William Jr. became the third Lemp family member to take his own life in the house. William’s brother Charles then moved into the house, and as he aged, descended into isolationism, germ-phobic behavior. In 1949 he became the fourth member of the family to shoot himself in the house. Their brother Edwin became the final living Lemp, and he lived away from the family house. He died of natural causes at age 90 and upon his death ordered the destruction of all Lemp family paintings, artifacts, and papers.
The Lemp Mansion was then sold and used as a boarding house, but either the declining neighborhood surrounding it or the shoddy maintenance or, as stories go, the presence of ghostly companions kept the boarding house frequently devoid of tenants. In 1975, Dick Pointer purchased the house and remodeled it into a restaurant and inn.
The house now offers a restaurant, bar, overnight accommodations, a museum and gift shop, as well as ghost tours. It even offers “The Lemp Experience,” a ghosthunting package that includes drink, appetizers, and a ghost tour with an infrared camera recording your journey through the mansion. For an additional fee, ghost hunters can spend the night in one of the suites.
Workers who renovated the mansion told stories of disappearing tools, strange sounds and feelings of being watched. Glasses at the bar have been said to levitate and appear to be thrown. Apparitions, one of them attributed to “the Lavendar Lady,” have been seen to appear and disappear into walls. The piano is said to play itself, and doors allegedly lock and unlock themselves. Strange, unaccountable sounds are heard. The mansion was named by LIFE magazine in 1980 as “one of the most haunted houses in America.”
Address: 3322 DeMenil Place, St. Louis, Missouri
Phone: (314) 664-8024
Webpage: The Lemp Mansion