Monday, October 29, 2012

Final Spooky Story for 2012: The Lemp Mansion

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).

Cherokee Cave
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
Cherokee Cave
Visit the Lemp Mansion Restaurant and Inn


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sounds like a cool place to visit! Built a bowling alley and pool in the caves? That is just wild.

Cindy said...

Now that is one horrible story.

Jay Noel said...

Alex: The caves underneath St. Louis, unfortunately filled with water. But prior, it was an underground complex.

Cindy: Lots of tragedy!

PT Dilloway, Superhero Author said...

Does not sound like a place where I'd want to spend the night. At least mental health treatment has come a long way from just locking them up in an attic and calling them "Monkey Boy."

Vero said...

Oh I love ghost-stories and haunted places, where the terrors of the past come creeping out at night, with poltergeist phenomena and tortured souls reliving their nightmares through innocent inhabitants. Awful tragedies, but great stuff for horror movies.
I'm a big fan of everything that goes bump in the night and then grabs your face. ;)

Jay Noel said...

PT: I've always wanted to tour the place. There's been countless local investigations there, and they always find something.

Vero: It's part of our local history here in St. Louis

Samantha May said...

I would love to visit! St. Augustine is considered to be one of the most haunted places in the US, particularly the lighthouse and fort (both of which I have been to several times).

I love paranormal stuff! It's interesting how much tragedy is usually behind these hauntings.

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

I had no idea that you lived in St. Louis. I like to visit places like this. I may not believe but I still have fun.

The Desert Rocks said...

What a tragic but well written story. I once visited the Winchester house near San Jose, CA and it is haunted too. That's Winchester as in rifle.
This Lemp family either drank too much of their bad beer and it killed all their brain cells or they were all driven insane by working too hard. Either way, it sounds like suicidal tendencies can be inherited. Yikes.

Jay Noel said...

Samantha: I've watched footage of an investigation at one of the lighthouses in there. CREEPY!

Michael: They have murder mystery dinner there all the time. They say it's pretty fun.

Eve: I think depression ran in that family. Combine that with money and power, and you've got Shakespearean tragedy.

M Pax said...

So have you gone and hunted ghosts? That'd be an interesting way to spend Wednesday night. :)

Carol Kilgore said...

This freaks me out. I wouldn't want to visit.

Melissa Bradley said...

I'd love to see this place. I'm a sucker for haunted houses and such.

Julie Dao said...

Thanks for the nightmares, Jay. That attic looks absolutely terrifying! And if I ever saw a ghost peeking over the bathroom stall at me, I'd pee myself. Wait...

Miranda Hardy said...

Sounds like a fascinating place to visit. I'd love to see it one day.

farawayeyes said...

Creepy and interesting. I lived in a very old and very haunted house once. Saw the murdered owner many times just leaning up against the mantel in the living room. House also did strange things, once the whole place actually trembled. Funny, I was never scared while living there.

Kelley Lynn said...

Oh I would totally want to visit! How fun!

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