Lemp Mansion Address – – 3322 Demenil Place, St Louis, Missouri, USA – MAP
History of Lemp Mansion
Built in the 1890 by the head of the local brewery, the Lemp Mansion served as a family home and remote offices.
The family started out as grocers under patriarch Adam Lemp. He opened a grocery store at the corner of Sixth and Morgan Streets. Today it’s the location of The Dome, an 80,000-seat stadium once home to the Rams.
Adam sold homemade vinegar and beer. Turns out beer was more popular, for obvious reasons. So, he stuck with that.
Did you know… St. Louis was built on a series of natural caves? It was. This included a big one Lemp bought. Natural refrigeration in a time before Whirlpool. He slapped the Western Brewery on that land in the 1840’s.
His son William took over after Adam’s death in 1862. Propelling the business to stardom, becoming the largest brewery outside of New York City with a single owner.
Then he was showing off, when in 1878 the first refrigeration machine in any American brewery was installed. Caves, fridge-machines. No doubt Lemp Beer was sold world-wide.
With all this prosperity, why not rename the business. In the 1890’s Western became Lemp Brewing. Some may think this bad luck, like renaming a ship. Those who state such beliefs are only supported by the tragedy that fell upon this family. For only a decade later it began, with William’s son Fredrick. The start of the Lemp family curse.
Start of the Curse, Frederick Lemp
Together the family tried everything to save Fredrick. Such as an extended trip to California for the warmer climate. Nothing worked. Frederick Lemp, 4th son of William Sr, died in 1901 at only 28 years old.
Listed by some as “mysterious circumstances”. The ability of old, rich societies to gossip pushed the story to new heights. Creating over-the-top legends which might have affected William Sr on a certain level.
Via my own limited research all the gossip seems false. Frederick’s death no mystery at all… just heart failure.
What’s true is how hard William Sr took his son’s death. For years going through the motions. Coming to work, sitting at his desk. Noticed by family and workers to constantly be lost in thought.
Then in 1904, William’s best friend, and other Fredrick in his life, Fredrick Pabst died.
Just one month later William Sr walked into the master bedroom of the Lemp Mansion and shot himself in the head.
Fredrick and his father set the ball rolling on the Lemp family’s curse. Only 2 years after William’s suicide, his wife died of cancer in that same master bedroom.
The Tragedy Continues – –
The favorite son of William Sr was William Jr, or “Billy”. He took over the family business after his father’s death.
During this time he married Lillian Handlan. Bit of a strange character that one. She was known to all as the “Lavender Lady” for her love of that color. Everything dyed lavender… dresses, carriages, saddles, on and on. Thankfully she didn’t dye the horses too.
Billy ran the family business as best he could. Being a drunk made it difficult. His true passion was beer. But sadly, not brewing it. He put more energy into parties and the business suffered.
Beer and women. He constantly cheated on Lillian. In 1908 she filed for divorce. This became a media circus.
She told stories of William’s cheating. Also how he liked to kill cats. He said, “They meowed all night. Kept me up!” Then fought back by telling everyone Lillian broke the “values of womanhood”, using foul language among others and wearing lavender for attention. Scandalous!
Needless to say, Lillian got a record high settlement in 1913. Along with sole custody of their son, William the 3rd.
Then in 1920 Prohibition happened. Also known as the Volstead Act. Public reason, the government thought by ending drunkenness they’d end lewd behavior and crime. Wrong about that one… think Al Capone.
Profits dropped for the now closed and leaderless Lemp Brewery.
More Suicide in Lemp Mansion – –
Also in 1920, Billy’s sister Elsa lived in the mansion for a little while after her marriage broke down.
Married to Thomas Wright, who was more like Mr. Wrong for Elsa. They fought constantly, leading up to a separation in 1918, and divorce in 1919.
She said he damaged her mental and physical health. Could this be a veiled mention of abuse?
Didn’t stop her from remarrying Thomas in 1920. Only a couple weeks later, Elsa was dead.
It was said she had a bought of insomnia. Stressed out by lack of sleep and full of emotion, she shot herself while in the house she shared with Thomas (at 13 Hortense Place, St. Louis)
Deemed a suicide. Supported by family history with her father. But was it? It’s said a movie on the subject is in the works. Maybe we’ll know more then.
One person sure it was suicide… Elsa’s brother Billy. He said of his sister’s death,
“That’s the Lemp family for you!”
He wasn’t kidding. Only 2 years later, in 1922, it was Billy’s turn.
The Brewery failed. Sold off at auction for a discount to the International Shoe Company. Billy had lost the business passed down from his Grandfather Adam.
Only a few months later, he copied his father and sister. While in his home office inside the Lemp mansion, William shot himself through the heart.
Don’t Blame the Lemp’s – It’s a St. Louis Curse
You can’t lay the curse of suicide only at the feet of the Lemp family. There was a pattern among the St. Louis brewing industry, both before and after Prohibition.
This included Patrick Henry Nolan. Vice President and manager of the Mutual Brewing Company. After getting hit by financial difficulties in 1914, Nolan killed himself at the brewery, the night before appearing in bankruptcy court.
And Otto Stifel of Union Brewing. This one can be blamed on Prohibition. That mixed with his gambling debts. All his family inheritance squandered. Otto feared losing his comfortable existence. After writing a few confusing suicide notes, he shot himself.
And a more famous name, August Busch of Anheuser-Busch. Again Prohibition, he struggled to maintain the family business. He survived it, after Volstead was repealed in 1933.
Everything was coming up August. Then he had chest pains. First the business, now his health. It was too much. In 1934 Busch killed himself in his home, Grant’s Farm, once home to the famous Union General Ulysses Grant.
Left a simple note saying, “Goodbye precious mama and adorable children”.
Suicide was so common in St. Louis among the eastern European brewers. Local authorities nicknamed it, the “Dutch Act”.
Fighting the Curse – –
Back to the Lemps. Raised by the Lavender loving Lillian, William the 3rd tried to break the curse. He wanted to bring back Lemp Beer after Prohibition.
In 1939 he licensed the still good Lemp name to another company who reproduced the beer. Starting his own business under the family name.
During the same time, William the 3rd’s Uncle Charles Lemp didn’t give a lick about the family biz. He became the final Lemp to live inside the mansion.
An unmarried bachelor. Lived in the house with two servants and his dog Cerva. Cerva was the name of the Lemp’s failed non-alcoholic beer, called “near-beer” introduced just before Prohibition.
DARK FACT :: Charles Lemp planned his suicide
Charles never entertained and rarely went out. He was known as an angry man. All leading to 1941 when he did something weird.
Charles sent a letter to a local funeral home. Writing, “I have chosen you to handle my affairs after I die”. Then explaining how he wanted things handled.
Maybe, because of his family history, they worried in the moment. But Charles went on kicking. For a whole 8 years before succumbing to the family curse.
In 1949 he killed his dog Cerva before taking his own life. All inside the Lemp mansion. His note read, “In case I am found dead blame it on no one but me.”
Thankfully It’s Over – –
The final son of Billy lived far away from the Lemp Mansion. Edwin retired at a young age, living in his estate called “Cragwold”. An interesting house with an observation tower. To overlook servant houses, birds, antelope, sheep, buffalo and yaks.
The calm of being surrounded by wealth and animals, far away from the family home and gossip. The curse didn’t stand a chance.
In 1970, Edwin died at the age of 90. He dedicated a section of his will to the Lemp mansion. Saying, upon his death all items from the house were to be destroyed.
Not confirmed, but legend states this act was to break the family curse.
It’s said tragedy creates ghosts. If this is the case, then the Lemp Mansion should be overflowing with family spirits. Stories abound, some related to the family, others just general stories.
This, of course, included the once master bedroom. Now called William Sr’s room. Reports of hearing someone running up the stairs. Maybe connected to history, as it’s said Billy Lemp did just that, after hearing the gunshot from his father’s room.
Residual experiences in many spots like the Atrium Room. Once home to the family’s exotic plants and birds. Visitors hear songbirds from outside this room.
Plus, a man seen at the dining room table reading a newspaper, at the same time as smelling cigar smoke from the main hallway.
Opening the Restaurant – –
Today a part of the house has been transformed into a restaurant. Several experiences here, including odd sounds and voices. Staff are witness to much, including a waitress who came in early one morning to open.
She wasn’t alone. A man sat at one of the tables facing away from her. Seemed to be looking out the window.
She was shocked to see a customer there so early. Didn’t even think how he might have gotten in. Defaulting to her training, how the customer is always right and such.
She called out, “Sir, would you like a cup of coffee?” Turned to switch on a light. And when looking back the man was gone.
Unrest – –
Poltergeist activity puts the house at risk when it’s closed at night. The ghosts are blamed for lighting candles and ripping table cloths to knock things over.