The Lemp Mansion
St Louis- The Lemp Mansion

There is no place in the city of St. Louis with a reputation that is quite as ghostly as the Lemp Mansion. It has served as many things over the years from stately home to boarding house to restaurant...but it has never lost the fame of being the most haunted place in the city. In fact, in 1980, Life Magazine called the Lemp Mansion "one of the ten most haunted places in America".

The Lemp family rose to prominence in St. Louis in the early 1800's when they developed a full-bodied German beer that appealed to American tastes. It soon became a local favorite and the family built a two block brewery that still stands today, despite the fact that it has long since been abandoned. The company went international in the 1880's and Lemp beer became as recognizable a symbol as Budweiser is today. It would later become "Falstaff' beer with that name replacing "Lemp" in the corporate logo.
The brewing empire actually began on in 1838 with the immigration of Adam Lemp from Germany to St. Louis. He worked as a grocer for a short period before starting the Western Brewery, which introduced German lager beer to the St. Louis. This new beer was a great change from the English-type ales that had previously been popular and the lighter beer soon became a regional favorite. Lemp's fortune grew and when he died in 1862, he left a thriving business in the hands of his son, William Lemp Sr.
Under his leadership, the Lemp Brewery continued to grow and soon gained its own transportation system and acquired a brewery that would expand to cover eleven city blocks. The company began expanding all over the nation, using cooled railroad cars, and then even expanded into overseas markets. They also introduced the popular "Falstaff" beer, which is still brewed by another company today, although the familiar logo once had the name Lemp emblazoned across it. This beer became a favorite across the country, something that had never been done by a regional brewer before.

Ironically, the family's trouble's began at the time of their greatest success. The first death in the family was that of Frederick Lemp, William Sr.'s favorite son and the heir apparent to the Lemp empire. He had been groomed for years to take over the family business.... but he literally worked himself to death and died from heart failure at the age of only 28. William Sr. could not accept his son's death and for the next 3 years, gradually withdrew from the world. He was rarely seen in public and chose to walk to the brewery each day by using the cave system beneath the house. The cavern actually connected to the brewery by way of an entrance in the basement. Finally, on a morning in 1904, William Lemp Sr. shot himself in his office in the Lemp Mansion.
Like a curse, Frederick's death hung over the entire family and his sister, Elsa, was the next to follow him to the grave. She killed herself with a revolver in her St. Louis home, which is also regarded to be haunted.
William Lemp Jr. was the next in line to the family business. He had inherited the family business after his father's death and with it, a great fortune. He filled the house with servants, built country houses and spent huge sums on carriages, clothing and art. His art collection was so large that it required three vaults just to hold it all. He also took advantage of the cave systems beneath the house, which had been used for beer lagering into advances in refrigeration came along. Will had a ballroom, a swimming pool and a theater constructed in the cave, which remain intact today. After Prohibition, the caves were abandoned and the entrances sealed shut. In the 1940's, the caves would be re-opened and turned into Cherokee Cave for several years.
In 1899, Will had married Lillian Handlan, the daughter of a wealthy manufacturer. She was nick-named the "Lavender Lady" because of her fondness for dressing in this color. She was soon spending the Lemp fortune as quickly as her husband was. While Will enjoyed showing off his trophy wife, he eventually grew tired of her and decided that to divorce her. Their divorce, and the court proceedings around it, created a scandal that all of St. Louis talked about. When it was all over, the "Lavender Lady" went into seclusion and retired from the public eye. Will would later remarry and start to become even stranger and more reclusive. He began to avoid all human contact and, like his father, use the cave to make his way back forth to the brewery each day.
The death of the Lemp Brewery came in 1919, at the beginning of Prohibition. Many other breweries began production of things like ice cream, baking powder and "near beer" to survive, but the Lemp Brewery failed to make any changes and closed down. The plant, which had been valued at more than $7 million, brought only $588,500 when it was sold off in 1922 to the International Shoe Company.
Will committed suicide shortly after. He was seated in his office, now the front dining room of the restaurant, and he shot himself in the chest with a revolver.

The fourth Lemp family suicide was that of Charles, Will's brother, and perhaps the strangest member of the family. He had a morbid attachment to the mansion and stayed on there, despite the morbid history of the place. He was also deathly afraid of germs and wore gloves to avoid any contact with bacteria. He killed himself in the basement of the house in 1949. He took his dog down to the lower level, shot it in the head and then turned the pistol on himself.
Unlike the others in the family, Edwin Lemp wisely chose to not live in the family mansion. He had a sprawling estate in nearby Kirkwood and died of natural causes at the age of 90.
The Lemp family line died out with him and the family's resting place can now be found in beautiful Bellefontaine Cemetery. But while no one remains in the Lemp family today.... it certainly doesn't mean that some of them are not still around.

After the death of Charles Lemp, the mansion was sold and turned into a boarding house. Shortly after that, it fell on hard times and began to deteriorate, along with the nearby neighborhood. The decline of the house continued until 1975, when it was purchased by Dick Pointer and his family. The Pointer's began remodeling and renovating the place, working for many years to turn it into a restaurant and an inn. But the Pointer's were soon to find out that they were not alone in the house.....
The bulk of the remodeling was done in the 1970's and during this time, workers reported strange things happening in the house, leading many to believe the place was haunted. Reports often varied between feelings of being watched, vanishing tools and strange sounds. Many of the workers actually left the job site and never came back.
Since the restaurant has opened, staff members also have had their own odd experiences. Glasses have been seen to lift off the bar and fly through the air; sounds are often heard that do not have explanation and some have even glimpsed actual apparitions who appear and vanish at will. In addition, many customers and visitors to the house report some pretty weird incidents. It is said that doors lock and unlock on their own; the piano in the bar plays by itself; voices and sounds come from nowhere; and even the spirit of the "Lavender Lady" has been spotted on occasion.

The house has also attracted ghost hunters from around the country, who have come partly due to a November 1980 LIFE magazine article, which named the Lemp Mansion as "one of the most haunted houses in America". It remains a popular place for dinner and spirits today.
The current owner of the house, Paul Pointer, maintains the place as a wonderful eating and lodging establishment and takes the ghosts as just another part of the strange mansion. "People come here expecting to experience weird things," he said, " and fortunately for us, they are rarely disappointed."

Thanks to Ghosts of the prairie
Thanks to Stephen Walker and Joe Light for additional information.