Lemp Mansion History

America’s First Lager Beer Brewers

John Adam Lemp, an immigrant from Eschwege in Germany, arrived in St. Louis in 1838. He was no different to the thousands of immigrants who had poured into the Gateway to the West in the first half 19th century. Lemp was originally a grocer. His store was the only one that could sell lager beer, an item not sold by any of his competitors. Lemp had studied the art of brewing the effervescent beverage with his father in Eschwege. The natural cave system beneath St. Louis provided the ideal temperature for aging beer. Lemp quickly realized that America’s future in lager beer was as bright as the beer itself. He left his grocery business in 1840 to start a small brewery at 112 S. Second Street. The St. Louis industry was created. John Adam Lemp, a millionaire, was a huge success with the brewery.

William J. Lemp succeeded the father as head of the brewery, and he quickly made it an industrial giant. A new plant was built at Cherokee Street and Carondolet Avenue in 1864. As the demand for the product grew, the brewery’s size grew and soon the brewery covered five blocks of city block.

Lemp beer was the largest brewery in St. Louis, and its family represented the city’s wealth. Lemp beer dominated the St. Louis market and held that position until Prohibition. The William J. Lemp Brewing Co was established in 1892. Two of the most powerful figures in the brewing industry toasted each others when William Lemp’s daughter, Hilda married Gustav Pabst, a noted Milwaukee brewer.

The Lemp Family

One of the greatest mercantile mysteries in St. Louis is the demise of Lemp’s empire. Frederick Lemp, William’s favorite son and the heir apparent of the brewery presidency, was the first to fall apart in the Lemp dynasty. He died in 1901 under mysterious circumstances. William J. Lemp, still grieving the loss of his beloved Frederick, shot himself in the head three years later in a bedroom of the family home. William J. Lemp, Jr. succeeded as president.

The Lemp’s continued to be plagued by tragedy with a startling passion. The brewery’s fortunes declined until Prohibition (1919), which closed the facility permanently. William Jr.’s sister Elsa was the wealthiest heiress of St. Louis and committed suicide in 1920. The Lemp brewery, once valued at $7million and covering ten blocks of the city, was sold to International Shoe Co. at auction for $588,500. Although the majority of the company’s assets were sold, the Lemps retained a strong attachment to the family home. William J. Lemp, Jr., who presided over the sale of the brewery, shot himself in the exact same place where his father had died 18 years earlier. William Lemp III was 42 years old when his father died in 1943 from a heart attack. Charles Lemp III, William Jr., remained at the house even after his brother committed suicide. Charles, a bitter man, lived a quiet life until he died from a gunshot wound he had self-inflicted. Edwin, his brother, discovered the body.

Edwin Lemp, ninety-nine years old, died from natural causes in 1970.

The Mansion

William J. Lemp purchased the Lemp Mansion in the early 1860s to use as his residence and auxiliary brewery. It was an impressive building, but Lemp made it a Victorian showcase with his vast brewery fortune.

Five years after radiant heat was first patented, the radiator system was installed by the heating system in 1884. To accommodate an open-air lift, the grand staircase was taken down. Only the decorative iron gates found in the basement restaurant remain from the elevator. The house was renovated completely in 1904. The former brewery office is located to the left of the main entry. This is where William Jr. committed his suicide. Italian marble is used for the decorative mantle.

The parlor is to the right, with its hand-painted ceilings and intricately carved mahogany mantles. The atrium is behind the parlor, where exotic birds and plants were kept by the Lemps. Lemp brought home a unique, glass-enclosed, and free-standing shower in his main bathroom. The room also features a glass-leg sink and a barber chair. Three vaults are located at the back of the house, which was built by the Lemps to store large quantities of art items. They were so passionate about art collecting that they couldn’t display all their collections. Each vault measures fifteen feet in width, twenty-five feet deep, and thirteen feet tall.

The second floor contained the bedrooms. The main bathroom features a white granite shower stall, marble, and cast iron mantle, and is also equipped with marble- and cast-iron bathtub. The third floor contained the servants’ quarters. It has cedar walk-in closets, skylights, and an observation deck. Because the Lemps created an auditorium, ballroom, and swimming pool in an underground natural cavern, the mansion doesn’t have a ballroom as such. This was possible because of a tunnel that is now sealed in the basement. A second tunnel connected the house with the brewery.

In the basement were the wine and beer cellars, laundry, and kitchen. The enormous kitchen, once used by the elite of St. Louis society, has been renovated and is now available to the Lemp Mansion Restaurant’s honored guests.

The Lemp Mansion, located in St. Louis Missouri, is considered to be one the most haunted locations in America. It still hosts the tragic Lemp family. The mansion became a stately home for millionaires, then turned into an office space and eventually fell into disrepair. Finally, it was restored to its original state as a fine-dining theatre, restaurant, bed, and breakfast.

Johann Adam Lemp, a German immigrant from Eschwege in 1838, started the Lemp family. He opened a small grocery shop at Delmar and 6th Streets. There he sold groceries, common household items, and homemade beer. This light golden lager was a refreshing change from the dark beers available at the time. His father passed the recipe on to him and he built a small brewery in 1840 near where the Gateway Arch is today.

Lemp sold his first beer in a brewery pub which soon became the Lemp Mansion. This was the first time that St. Louis had a larger. Lemp soon discovered that the brewery was too small for both production and storage, and he found a limestone cave to the south. The cave was found at the corner of Cherokee Place and De Menil Place. It could be kept cool by cutting ice from the nearby Mississippi River and placing it inside. This provided perfect conditions for the lagering process. Lemp’s Western Brewing Co. continued its growth and was the largest brewery in the city by 1850. The beer won first place at the St. Louis fair in 1858.

Adam Lemp, who was a millionaire at the time of his death on August 25, 1862, died. His son William began a major expansion to the brewery. He bought a five-block block around Cherokee’s storage house, which is above the lagering caves. A new plant was built at Cherokee Street and Carondolet Avenue in 1864. The brewery eventually occupied five blocks of the city, expanding continuously to meet product demand.

The Lemp family was a symbol of wealth and power in the 1870s. In fact, the Lemp Brewery dominated the St. Louis beer industry, a position it held until prohibition.

Jacob Feickert was William Lemp’s father in law and built a house just a few blocks from the Lemp Brewery in 1868. It was purchased by William Lemp in 1876 for his family. He used it as a residence and auxiliary office. The home was already beautiful, but Lemp began to renovate and expand the house into a Victorian wonderland.

A tunnel was constructed from the mansion through the caves to reach the brewery. Parts of the cave were used for storage, and later, mechanical refrigeration was available. Later, this underground oasis would become a large concrete swimming pool with hot water from the brewery boiling house and a bowling alley. The theatre could once be accessed via a spiral staircase that ran from Cherokee Street.

The Lemp Brewery was a nationally recognized brewery by the mid-1890s. They introduced the “Falstaff” beer which is still being brewed today by another company. Lemp Western Brewery was first to offer beer distribution from coast to coast. William, Sr. helped Busche, Anheuser, and Pabst to get started while he was building their own business empire.

William Lemp

The Lemp family was enjoying great success but then, at 28 years old, Frederick Lemp, William Sr.’s favorite son and heir apparent died. Frederick, who was never in good health, succumbed to heart failure. After his son’s death, William Lemp, who was devastated, was never the same. He began a slow withdrawal and was seldom seen in public again. Frederick Pabst, William’s close friend and confidant, also died on January 1, 1904. This left William completely uninterested in the running of the brewery. He was still able to get to the office every day, but he was anxious and uneasy. He began to experience a decline in his mental and physical health and shot himself in the head on February 13, 1904.

William Lemp Jr. became the new president at the William J. Lemp Brewing Company in November 1904. Lillian Lemp, his wife and inheritor of the family business, and a large fortune began to spend their inheritance. The couple filled their home with servants and spent enormous amounts on carriages and clothing as well as art.

Lillian was beautiful and came from a wealthy family. William Lemp, Jr. had married her in 1899. William J. Lemp, Jr. was born September 26, 1900. Because of her love for lavender, Lillian was soon known as the “Lavender Lady”. She was known for her lavender accessories and attire. Will loved to show off his “trophy wife”, but Will was more interested in playing “player” than showing off his “trophy spouse.” He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and was used to acting and doing what he liked.

William became tired of his wife and demanded that she spend her time shopping. He gave his wife $1,000 per day and made it clear that she could not spend it.

Will worked during the day at the brewery and went to bed late at night. He would host lavish parties in caves below his mansion and bring in prostitutes to entertain his friends. His friends, who enjoyed the pool, the bowling alley, and the free-flowing beer at these extravagant events, were known to have a great time down below.

Will’s schemings caught up to him when he had a son with another woman than his wife. There is no evidence that this boy ever existed today. However, rumors have circulated that the boy lived in the attic of the mansion his whole life. Joe Gibbons, a St Louis historian, confirmed that the boy existed when he interviewed both a former nanny and a chauffeur who used to work at the mansion. They also claimed that the boy was in the attic that also contained the servant’s bedrooms. The boy was the result of Will’s philandering and either one of the many prostitutes, or a servant at the mansion. He was also born with Down’s Syndrome. The family was embarrassed by the child’s birth and the Lemp kept him away from the outside world to hide his “shame”. He is still known today as the “Monkey Face Boy” and continues to visit the Lemp Mansion.

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