I got a reader request to do a post on this historic home in St. Louis, Missouri. It has the morbid reputation of being the site of not one, not two, but THREE suicides of Lemp family members. And one mysterious death.
The Lemp family built their fortune from the brewery they established in St. Louis in 1840. The William J. Lemp Brewing Co. dominated the St. Louis beer market up until 1920 when Prohibition proved too much for the company.
In 1876, William J. Lemp and his wife Julia purchased the mansion.
The house was actually built in 1868 by Jacob Feickert, but the Lemps used their considerable fortune to turn the house into a showplace. In 1911, the Lemps moved some of their offices for the Lemp Brewery into the house and undertook renovations to accommodate the new office space. Members of the Lemp family, however, continued to live in the mansion the up until 1949.
Here’s where it gets intriguing…
In 1901 tragedy struck when Frederick Lemp – the heir set to become the president of the family business – died a mysterious death. Not sure how he died – but legend says it was “mysterious”.
Unable to cope with the grief, his father William J. Lemp shot himself in the head three years later in a bedroom in the mansion.
William J. Lemp, Jr. succeeded his father as president of the brewery but the business was faltering. When Prohibition passed in the United States in 1919, it was the final nail in the coffin. Unable to continue brewing beer, the company shut down and sold off the factory complex at auction.
That same year, the company president’s sister Elsa, once the considered the wealthiest heir in St. Louis, committed suicide.
But we’re not done yet. In December of 1922, William J. “Billy” Lemp Jr. shot himself in his office in the mansion.
Charles Lemp, the third son of William Sr., was the final Lemp to live in the mansion. But he too, fell victim to the Lemp family curse and ended his life in May of 1949. He also shot his dog.
Wait, I think we are up to FOUR suicides now. Gosh, I’ve lost track.
By 1950, the unfortunate mansion had become a boarding house and over the next decade, fell into decline. One more major blow to the house was the construction of Interstate 55 in the 1960’s. To make way for the highway, the property’s carriage house and much of the grounds were destroyed.
But – take a deep breath – things have rebounded for the ill-fated abode.
The Lemp Mansion is now run as an inn and restaurant. Their niche is historical and haunted tours – capitalizing on the home’s tragic past.
They do not only weddings, but murder mystery dinners and Halloween parties. In fact, the room where Billy Lemp killed himself is now a dining room.
Paranormal enthusiasts come from far and wide to tour the home where the tortured souls of the Lemp family are said to still roam.
In 1980 Life Magazine declared the Lemp Mansion one of the 9 most haunted houses in America.
In 2010, the mansion was investigated on the hit show Ghost Hunters.
In 2014, the Travel Channel featured the mansion on its show Ghost Adventures.
My favorite part of the mansion is the bathrooms…
This one is somewhat reminiscent of a mausoleum.
The bathroom below has an antique rib-cage shower in the tub, in the middle of the room…
Burgandy carpet and fireplace in the bathroom. Wow!
But the spookiest part of this whole house is undoubtedly the cellar:
This place was made for ghosts.
It is certainly uncanny how so many members of one family met their demise here. Perhaps there was a genetic mental illness? Bad luck? Poor business decisions? Inability to cope with life’s stressors?
Or, perhaps…………. it’s just the house.