Want to know where one of the most haunted houses in the world is? The Lemp Mansion right here in St. Louis is listed in the Top 10. The once powerful Lemp family created a beer brewing empire, only to have their company crumble from Prohibition and a string of family tragedies.
Johann Adam Lemp (pictured right) came from Germany and started a grocery store and grew that business into a beer brewing company. It used to stand near where the Gateway Arch is today.
After his father’s death in 1852, William Lemp continued the tremendous growth of the brewery – which took up five blocks in downtown St. Louis. In 1876, William bought the mansion his father-in-law built and renovated it from top to bottom. From the basement of the mansion, William built a tunnel that led through caves to the brewery. Caves were often used as refrigeration centers, but later William built a grand theater, concrete swimming pool, and a bowling alley down there.
In 1901, William’s favorite son Frederick died at the age of 28, William became a recluse. After losing his eldest son, William was never the same. His mental and physical health began to fade. On February 13, 1904, William Lemp shot himself in the head with a .38 caliber Smith & Wesson. Tragically, Frederick’s sister Elsa later committed suicide with a revolver in 1920, but not at the mansion.
William Lemp Jr. took over the company. He fathered a son from one of his extramarital affairs, and he kept this illegitimate son locked away in the Lemp Mansion’s attic. The boy had Down’s syndrome and was kept away from society, and the family referred to him as “Monkey Boy.”
After Prohibition, the brewery was shut down in 1919. William Jr. seemed to fall into a depression, like his father, and on December 22, 1922, William Lemp II shot himself in the heart with a .38 in the family mansion. In 1943, his son William Lemp III died of a heart attack at the age of 42.
Charles Lemp, William II's brother, eventually moved into the family home. Charles (pictured right) also took care of his brother’s illegitimate son that had been kept in the attic. “Monkey Boy” died at the age of 30 in the mansion, and Charles’ mental health continued to deteriorate. On May 10, 1949, Charles Lemp shot his beloved dog in the basement with a .38 revolver, and then shot himself on the staircase to his room.
Edwin Lemp, William Jr. and Charles’ brother, had lived a quiet life in Kirkwood, MO. He didn’t move into the mansion, and he died of natural causes at the age of 90 in 1970. His butler, acting on Edwin’s final wishes, burned every single Lemp artifact.
With all this tragedy occurring within the walls of the Lemp Mansion, it’s understandable that subsequent owners and employees would experience paranormal activity. When the mansion was first made into an inn and restaurant, workers reported seeing apparitions, a feeling of someone watching them, objects being moved when they weren’t looking, and strange sounds. People would quit immediately, refusing to return to work.
There are three areas of the mansion that seem to be “hot spots.” They include the attic, the staircase, bedroom, and the basement – now called “The Gates of Hell” by locals.
Here’s a quick list of just SOME of the reported activity:
The attic is haunted by “Monkey Boy.” People have reported seeing his face in the windows, objects moving, and footsteps. (Notice the picture of the attic on the right - the middle of the floor in that narrow attic is very worn. You can almost imagine the poor child pacing back and forth up there).
The downstairs women’s restroom used to be William Jr’s study. There, women have reported a man peeking over the stalls, only to find the restroom empty.
In William Sr.’s room, people have reported hearing someone running up the stairs and kicking the door. It’s said that when Sr. shot himself, William Jr. came running up and kicked the bedroom door down to get to his father.
A tour guide heard horses neighing and galloping towards his window. It was just a parking lot, and there were no horses there. When the lot was expanded, they found evidence that the area just outside that window had been used to tether horses.
Childrens’ voices have been heard throughout the house. One guest heard a child say, “help me” over and over again. And another visitor heard, “Come play with me” several times.
The bar area has had several incidents as well. Workers have witnessed glasses lifting into the air and moving on their own, voices coming from nowhere, and the piano playing by itself.
As you can imagine the “Cherokee Cave” running underneath the mansion is also quite haunted. Sounds of weeping and strange sights have been reported. Long before the Lemps built their mansion, it’s said that a young American Indian couple, hid in the cave and starved to death – and that story was verified when white explorers did find bones of two people in the cave (near Jefferson Ave. and Arsenal for you St. Louisans).
There have been many ghost hunters and researchers visiting the mansion and trying to find evidence of it being haunted. Needless to say, they don’t have to work very hard to find it.
Other links and spooky ghost pictures of researchers visiting The Lemp Mansion:
Missouri Ghost Hunter’s society
Beck M.’s experience at Lemp
Lemp Mansion Tour
Visit the Lemp Mansion Restaurant and Inn