I learned about the Lemp Mansion when it was featured on a TV show about haunted sites. So, of course, when Sweetums and I were on Route 66 for our honeymoon and passed through St. Louis, I had to stop. It was not during regular business hours but a nice man gave us a tour of the downstairs rooms and opened the museum gift shop where we bought a handmade Lemp Mansion Ouija board as a souvenir. (Doesn’t every honeymooner buy one of those?)
About the Lemps: John Adam Lemp came from Germany and started brewing the first lager in the country. Under his son, William J. Lemp, the brewery grew to cover five city blocks. He bought a nearby mansion that, though lavish, would be the site of much sadness.
The history on the Lemp Mansion website says,
“The demise of the Lemp empire is one of the great mercantile mysteries of St. Louis. The first major fissure in the Lemp dynasty occurred when Frederick Lemp, William’s favorite son and the heir apparent to the brewery presidency, died under mysterious circumstances in 1901. Three years later, William J. Lemp shot himself in the head in a bedroom at the family mansion, apparently still grieving the loss of his beloved Frederick. William J. Lemp Jr. succeeded his father as president.
Tragedy continued to stalk the Lemps with startling ardor. The brewery’s fortunes continued to decline until Prohibition (1919) closed the plant permanently. William Jr.’s sister Elsa, who was considered the wealthiest heiress in St. Louis, committed suicide in 1920 … After presiding over the sale of the brewery, William J. Lemp, Jr. shot himself in the same building where his father died eighteen years earlier. His son, William Lemp III, was 42 when he died of a heart attack in 1943. William Jr.’s brother, Charles … led a reclusive existence until he too died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.”
Today, the beautifully preserved 33-room Victorian mansion built in the early 1860s is home to a restaurant, museum and upstairs suites for overnight stays. Haunted history tours are also offered. At certain times, visitors can also tour the Lemp Brewery caves, located beneath the abandoned brewery buildings. The cool caves were used to store beer.