Thursday, March 18, 2021

The Very Haunted Lemp Mansion in St. Louis Never Ceases to Amaze

By Margie Kay

The Lemp Mansion, St. Louis, Missouri   Photo: "Lemp-mansion" by MattHucke - Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Commons -

I had the good fortune to visit and explore the Lemp Mansion in 2012 along with my friend Debbie Ziegelmeyer. After having lunch in the restaurant on the lower level, we moved upstairs to complete our much-anticipated ghost hunt, with equipment in hand. Before mentioning the results, however, lets begin with some history of the place.

The home was built in 1868 by St. Louisian Jacob Feickert. William J. Lemp, owner of the largest brewery in St. Louis, and his wife, Julia, moved into the mansion in 1876. The Lemp family  lived in the house until 1949 when Charles Lemp committed suicide.

William Lemp, the son of a successful grocer and German beer brewer, continued in his father’s footsteps, expanding the company. In 1911, the Lemps contracted major renovations to the home to include conversion of some spaces into offices for the Lemp Brewery.

William brewed and bottled his beer in the same facility to meet growing demand for the product. In 1878 he installed the first refrigeration machine in an American brewery, following with refrigerated railway cars, in order
to transport the beer across the States. Not long after, Lemp Beer was sold worldwide.

In 1892, the William J. Lemp Brewing Company was founded from the Western Brewery with William as President, his son William Jr. as Vice-President, and his son Louis as Superintendent.
   William J. "Billy" Lemp, Jr., born on August 13, 1867, went to St. Louis University and then studied the art of brewing. However, it was William Sr.'s fourth son, Frederick, born in 1873, whom he wanted to take over the company. But Frederick had heart issues and died on December 12, 1901 of heart failure due to complication of diseases.

William Sr. became distraught over his son’s death, and his health slowly deteriorated. To make matters worse, his best friend Frederick Pabst died on February 1, 1904. On the morning of February 13, 1904, William Lemp killed himself by gunshot, and died at 10:15 a.m.

On November 7, 1904, William J. "Billy" Lemp, Jr., took over the brewing company as president. Billy had married Lillian Handlan five years earlier, and they moved to a new home at 3343 South 13th Street.

Williams wife, nicknamed the “Lavender Lady” for her love of the color lavender filed for divorce in 1908, charging Billy with desertion, cruel treatment and other indignities. Lillian was granted her divorce and full custody of William III with Billy given visitation rights.

Elsa Lemp Wright, the youngest child of William Lemp Sr., filed for divorce against Thomas Wright. The divorce was granted, however, the couple reconciled and remarried in 1920. After an argument with her husband, Elsa shot herself while in bed at her home on Hortense Place.

In the 1910s The Lemp Brewery suffered when Prohibition began. The brewery was shut down and the Falstaff trademark was sold to Lemp's friend, "Papa Joe" Griesedieck. The brewery was later sold at auction for pennies on the dollar. On December 29, 1922, Billy Lemp shot himself in his office, which today is the dining room on the left side of the door on the main floor.

Billy Lemp had one son, William J. Lemp III, licensed the Lemp name to Central Breweries of East St. Louis in 1939. Central Breweries changed their name to the William J. Lemp Brewing Company, and began a grand marketing campaign resulting in increased sales of the new Lemp Beer. The contract was terminated by Ems Brewing, which bought out Lemp in 1945.

The Lemp Mansion is currently a restaurant and inn owned by the Pointer family. Historical and haunted tours are offered, and it is a venue for murder mystery dinner theatre and Halloween parties.  

The Investigation:

Debbie and I brought along a EMF meter, two digital thermometers, and two cameras for our impromptu ghost hunt rather than bringing the usual bags of equipment. We were not spending the night and didn’t have much time. However, we would not be disappointed.

While sitting in the dining room eating lunch, some movement caught my eye to the right, and I looked, thinking it was the waiter. However, there was nothing there, so I just kept on with our conversation, anticipating that we might capture a spirit in the restaurant, and kept my camera handy. A few minutes later, the movement occurred again, this time a tall dark shadow moved from across the room and through a doorway and towards the staircase in the hall. I took a quick photo but nothing appeared in the photograph.

Debbie Z. taking temperature readings
in the Elsa Lemp Suite


Next, we moved to the upstairs area to Elsa’s room. As we walked up the stairs I felt a presence on the staircase. Upon entering Elsa’s room, Debbie and I both felt a presence walk into the room, and I felt something walk through me. Debbie’s thermometer started to drop, and finally stopped at a full 10 degrees lower than the original room temperature. It started out at 72 degrees and dropped to 62 degrees. My EMF meter began to show high readings. I snapped a picture of the fireplace and mirror (see photo on page 11) and there are some streams of light in the mirror which I cannot explain. This type of image has appeared before in photographs of mirrors (see the article on Haunted Deadwood in a previous issue of Un-X News Magazine).

The fireplace and mirror in the Elsa Lemp
Suite with unexplained white streaks in
the mirror. Photo: Margie Kay


The presence stayed in the room for several minutes, then as quickly as it came, it was gone again. We took photos and moved on to the hall, and once again, I felt a presence on the stairs so snapped some photos. In one picture there is an unexplained white snake-like stream of light for which I can find no explanation. The photo taken right afterwards shows nothing. If it were something mundane it would surely have shown up in both photographs.

 Our next move was to visit the basement area. Once again, a few minutes after arriving I again felt and saw a presence - this time of an older man wearing a black suit. He was very imposing. I saw him walk from one side of the room, straight in to the bar area and walk through the closed door. I could tell that this was something he did on a regular basis.
The bartender told me that this spot is the old tunnel entrance that went underground to the brewery. Apparently, Mr. Lemp did not want to go out in public to visit his brewery every day. This is something that is not generally known, so  it confirms what I saw. There was a presence of a younger man in the room as well.

Unexplaned ghostly lights appear in the lower part of this photo of the staircase.
Photo: Margie Kay

After our visit to this site I can say that the Lemp Mansion is definitely haunted and worth a visit for any serious ghost hunter.  I’m looking forward to going back.

The Lemp Mansion offers regular and haunted tours and special events. The home may be rented for special events and parties. Every year the Lemp has a Halloween Bash which is touted as being one of the best Halloween parties in the country. Visit for more information. 


Margie Kay is a veteran paranormal and UFO investigator and author of Haunted Independence Missouri, Gateway to the Dead, and 12 more books. Visit for more information. 


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