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The Lemp Mansion, St. Louis, MO

I found the wonderful Lemp Mansion quite by accident. We were shopping down on Cherokee Street in St. Louis, Missouri, a place world-famous for its antique stores; when our stomachs started growling and we saw that it was long-past lunch time, I asked a shop owner for a recommendation. Without a pause, she said, "Lemp Mansion is just down the street, and they have the best food in St. Louis!"

We headed down the street toward I-55, and found the place just a half-hour before it closed. As it turned out, the lunch crowd had already thinned out, so we had the place to ourselves. The waiter gave us our choice of tables, so we selected one, ordered our lunch, and went exploring.

Lemp Mansion was built in the 1860ís, and was the home of William J. Lemp, one of St. Louis' legendary beer barons. By 1870, the Lemp brewery had the largest part of the regional beer market. The Lemp fortune continued to grow, and William and his wife were the height of St. Louis society. In 1897 there was a wedding of royal proportions when the Lempís daughter, Hilda, was joined in marriage to Gustav Pabst, from the famous Pabst brewing family. Life was good. William brought up his favorite son Frederick in the business, teaching him all the tricks and trade of brewing, preparing him for the day that the young man would take over the family business. That day would never come, however. The pressure of the business was too great, and Frederick died of a heart attack in 1901. William was distraught, and slowly began to become a recluse. His depression deepened, and in 1904 he committed suicide by gunshot in his bedroom at Lemp Mansion.

William J. Lemp, Jr. took over the family business upon the death of his father, and he and his wife "the Lavender Lady" spent money lavishly. Prohibition was enacted in 1919, and the familyís fortunes suddenly crumbled. After selling the brewery to the International Shoe Company, William Lemp, Jr. committed suicide in his office at Lemp Mansion. Tragedy haunted the Lemp family. Charles Lemp, another brother and the only family member left occupying the house, began to spiral down into a world of germ-phobia and seclusion. In 1949, he led his dog down to the basement. Charles took his petís life, then his own, completing the trilogy of suicides that occurred at Lemp Mansion. The house passed from the Lemp family, and changed owners several times. For a while, it was even a boarding house. In 1975, it was purchased by the Pointer family who gave it the tender loving care that it needed. During the restoration period, workers reported many strange things: knockings, phantom footsteps, and other unexplainable sounds.

When the Lemp Mansion was opened as a bed & breakfast and a restaurant, the staff and patrons alike began to have supernatural experiences. The strange sounds continued, along with doors opening and closing, locking and unlocking, and the sounds of music from a piano that no one was playing. A female ghost was occasionally seen, thought to be that of Lillian Handlan Lemp, the "Lavender Lady."

While we didn't see that famous spirit, we did feel an incredibly strong sensation in the Aviary (pictured at the left), which may have been one of the members of the Lemp family back for a visit. We finally returned to our table for an incredibly delicious meal. I had the "Prosperity Sandwich", which I highly recommend when you visit!


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