In 1868, a wealthy St. Louis beer brewer by the name of William Lemp purchased his father-in-law’s mansion and renovated it to suit his tastes before moving in with his wife, Julia. This was a huge step for the Lemp family, since William’s father had immigrated to the United States from Germany only 30 years before. In that time, the Lemps had developed a brewing empire and become millionaires. Sadly, the happiness of this family was not to last.
The first tragedy to strike the Lemps occurred when William and Julia’s oldest son, Frederick, died in 1901 at the age of 28 from heart failure. William did not handle the death well and began to withdraw from public life. His despair only increased when his best friend, Frederick Pabst, died a few years later.
Williams tried his best to continue running the family business, but his depression overcame him. He shot himself in the head in February of 1904, just a month after his friend’s death.
The Lemp’s second son, William Jr., took over running the business and inherited the family fortune, which he and his wife, Lillian, soon began spending as fast as they could. Their spending habits weren’t their only problem, though. William Jr. was cheating on his wife with any woman willing to sleep with him, including prostitutes. He fathered a child with Down’s Syndrome with one of his paramours and then kept the poor child hidden away in the attic of the Lemp Mansion to keep him from public view.
Finally, in 1908 William and Lillian divorced. At the same time, the Lemp’s fortunes were going downhill as their brewery faced increased competition from a local brewing conglomerate. In 1919, Prohibition put the nail in the coffin of the Lemp brewing empire and they closed their doors. One year later, William Jr.’s sister, Elsa Lemp Wright, shot and killed herself over her own failed marriage.
Even after all this, early death continued to plague the family. William, Jr., depressed over the loss of his family’s business, shot himself in the heart and died in 1922. He committed suicide in the Lemp Mansion, in the same place his father had killed himself. His brother Charles then moved into the grand house.
Charles lived there with William Jr.’s illegimate child until the unfortunate child, now a 30-year-old man, died in the attic. Shortly after this death, Charles shot and killed his beloved pet dog and then killed himself in his bedroom on the second floor of the Lemp Mansion in 1949. The Lemp family line died out when the last brother, Edwin, died in 1970 of natural causes.
After Charles’ death, the mansion was turned into a boarding house. But people who stayed there complained about hearing strange noises and ghostly footsteps. Soon, no one wanted to stay there and the house deteriorated.
In 1975, the Lemp Mansion was saved when a new family bought it and turned it into a restaurant and inn. The hauntings continued, though. Workmen who were working on the mansion’s renovations would be so afraid that they would leave and refuse to return.
The Lemp Mansion is still in operation as an inn and restaurant and is still said to be haunted. People claim to have seen William Jr.’s illegitimate son on the third floor. William Jr. is even said to peep at women while they are bathing. People have also heard strange voices and noises in William Sr.’s office, where he and his son both died.
Today, the house is said to be one of the most haunted places in the United States. If you aren’t afraid of ghosts, you can still stay the night there. If that’s too scary for you, you can still eat at the restaurant or just book a tour. You just might meet one of the unfortunate members of the Lemp family during your visit.