The Lemp Mansion is a well-known historical house in Benton Park in St. Louis. It was the home of brewer baron William J. Lemp Sr., and his family. William J. Lemp Brewing Co. dominated the St. Louis beer market for many years with its Falstaff beer brand. But the family suffered many tragedies over the years, and four members of the Lemp family died by committing suicide. The mansion is said to be haunted by members of the Lemp family.
William’s Lemp’s father, Johann "Adam" Lemp, was born in Germany in 1798. He came to the United States in 1836, eventually settling in St. Louis in 1838. He ran a grocery store that sold not only typical groceries, but his own vinegar and beer. By 1840 he focused more on beer, and formed Western Brewery.
Adam Lemp was one of the first people in the country to brew German lager. As a result, his beer became very popular with the increasing German population in the area. As the brewery prospered and grew, a naturally refrigerated cave in south St. Louis began to be used as storage. The cave was located below the current locations of the Lemp Mansion and the Lemp Brewery.
William J. Lemp was born in Germany in 1835. He worked at the Western Brewery after graduating from St. Louis University, but he left the company to form a partnership with another brewer. In 1861, he enlisted in the United States Reserve Corps and married Julia Feickert. When Adam Lemp died in 1862, William returned to the Western Brewery to take over for his father.
The Lemp Mansion, located at 3322 Demenil Place, was built in 1868 by a man from St. Louis named Jacob Feickert. William J. Lemp moved into the mansion with his wife in 1876.
He was quite successful, and the Western Brewery became the largest brewery in St. Louis and the largest outside of New York with a single owner. 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 Sr.'s fourth son, Frederick, had significant health issues. When Frederick died of heart failure in 1901, William Sr. became severely depressed and his health declined. In 1904, after the death of his best friend Frederick Pabst, William Lemp Sr. committed suicide by gunshot.
With the death of William Sr., William J. "Billy" Lemp, Jr. took over the brewing company as president. He moved with his wife of 5 years, Lillian Handlan, to a new home. Lillian filed for divorce in 1908, and charged Billy with abandonment, cruel treatment and other disgraces. After 11 days of divorce proceedings, Lillian was granted her divorce as well as custody of the couple’s son, William III. He built "Alswel", a country retreat overlooking the Meramec River and by 1914, he lived there full-time.
With Prohibition, the Lemp Brewery suffered and was shut down and sold. In 1922, Billy Lemp shot himself in his office.
Another tragic end awaited Elsa Lemp Wright, the youngest child of William Sr. She was married to Thomas Wright, president of the More-Jones Brass and Metal Company in 1910 until their separation and divorce in 1919. She charged Thomas with causing damage to her mental and physical health. Although the divorce was granted, Elsa and Thomas soon reconciled and remarried in March 1920. Later that month, Elsa shot herself while in bed at their house at 13 Hortense Place.
The Lemp Brewing Company saw brief new light in the early 1940s. In 1939, William J. Lemp III, Billy’s son, licensed the Lemp name to Central Breweries of East St. Louis and renamed it the William J. Lemp Brewing Company. By 1945, they were bought out by Ems brewing.
The third son of William Sr. was the final Lemp to live in the mansion. Charles Lemp had left the brewery in 1917 to go into banking and finance, and dabbled in politics. He moved into the mansion in 1929 with his dog and two servants. He never married. Charles was eccentric and in 1941 he sent an unusual letter to a south St. Louis funeral home.
He asked that when he died his remains should be taken immediately by ambulance to the Missouri Crematory. He requested that his body should not be bathed, clothed, or changed in any way. After cremation, his ashes were to be put into a wicker box and buried on his farm. No funeral would be held, and no notice put in the papers. Eight years later in 1949, he shot his dog and then himself in the head, leaving a suicide note which read, "St. Louis Mo/May 9, 1949, In case I am found dead blame it on no one but me. Ch. A. Lemp."
The only surviving son of William Sr., Edwin Lemp, had worked at the brewery until 1913. He retired to "Cragwold", his estate overlooking the Meramec River. The estate had an observation tower and two servants' houses. Most interestingly, Edwin also had a collection of birds, antelope, sheep, yaks, buffalo and other animals on site. He dedicated himself to many charitable causes, primarily the St. Louis Zoo. He lived until 1970, and when he died at the age of 90, his final order was for his caretaker to destroy his art collection and family heirlooms.
Over the years, many of the original details of the home have been replaced. However, some pieces remain including the decorative iron gates from the open-air elevator which can be viewed from the basement restaurant. An Italian marble mantle still sits in the office where William Lemp, Jr. committed suicide. The hand-painted parlor ceiling and intricately carved African mahogany mantles are also original. The glass-enclosed shower in the main bathroom is one that Lemp brought back to St. Louis from an Italian hotel. In addition, the three vaults where the Lemps stored their art pieces are located in the rear of the home.
The Lemp Mansion and Lemp Brewery are widely believed to be haunted. They have been featured in many articles, on several television shows, and have been examined by numerous paranormal investigators.
One spirit is said to be William’s illegitimate son, Zeke, nicknamed "the monkey faced boy", who had been born with Down's Syndrome and hidden away in the attic.
The Lemp Mansion currently operates as a restaurant and inn (and even the site of a murder mystery dinner theater!) and people flock there to see if they can observe something creepy. This 19th century mansion in St. Louis is said to be one of the ten most haunted places in America. Find out more at
Have you ever stayed at the Lemp Mansion? What was your experience? Do you believe the mansion is haunted?
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