My special guest tonight is author Rebecca Pittman here to discuss the haunting of Lemp Mansion. Get her book.
Thought to be one of the most bizarre stories in history, this saga of one of America's wealthiest families, and the leading Beer Barons in the Gilded Age, is one stranger than fiction. The story of the Lemp family is one of privilege, opulence, fame, and tragedy. Four members of the family died by gunshot wounds--three by suicide, a fourth under mysterious circumstances that has St. Louis tongues still waging today--95 years after the event took place. Take a peek through the keyhole of Lemp Mansion and discover her darkest secrets, and what makes her today one of the most-haunted houses, not only in St. Louis, but in the world.
Charles Lemp, the third son of William Sr., was the final Lemp to live in the mansion, starting in 1929.
He had left the brewery in 1917, to go into banking and finance. He had also dabbled in politics, influencing many southside wards. He never married and lived with his dog in the mansion with two servants, a married couple.
April 1941, Charles Lemp sent a letter to a south St. Louis funeral home requesting that in case of his death, his remains should be taken by ambulance to the Missouri Crematory. His body should not be bathed, clothed, or changed. His ashes should be put into a wicker box and buried on his farm. There were to be no funeral held or a notice put in the papers.
Eight years later, he shot himself in the head, leaving the following suicide note: "St. Louis Mo/May 9, 1949, In case I am found dead blame it on no one but me. Ch. A. Lemp".
The house was built in 1890 according to the St. Louis Tax records. In 1911, the house underwent major renovations including conversion of some space into offices for the Lemp Brewery, which then ceased all production when it was sold to International Shoe Company at auction in 1922. The Lemps lived in the house until 1949 when Charles Lemp died by suicide in his bed.
In 1950, the mansion became a boarding house; throughout the next decade, it lost much of its ornate charm. The construction of Interstate 55 during the 1960s led to the destruction of much of the grounds and one of the carriage houses.
Although many of the original details of the home have been replaced, there are still some remaining pieces. The decorative iron gates from the open-air elevator can be viewed from the basement restaurant. In the office where William Lemp, Jr. died by suicide, there is still an Italian marble mantel. The ceiling in the parlor is hand-painted, and the mantels are intricately carved African mahogany. The main bathroom includes a glass-enclosed shower that Lemp brought back to St. Louis from an Italian hotel. The three vaults where the Lemps stored their art pieces are located in the rear of the home.
The Lemp Mansion is currently a restaurant and inn owned by the Pointer family; tours both historical and haunted are offered and it is a venue for murder mystery dinner theater and Halloween parties. There are other nearby buildings of historic interest including the Chatillon-DeMenil House at 3325 DeMenil Place.
Elsa Lemp Wright
Elsa Lemp Wright, the youngest child of William Sr. married Thomas Wright, president of the More-Jones Brass and Metal Company in 1910. They separated in 1918 and in February, 1919, Elsa filed for divorce. She cited, among other things, damage to her mental and physical health. The divorce was granted after a trial, but Elsa and Thomas soon reconciled and remarried in March 1920. Later that month on March 20, Elsa shot herself while in bed at their house at 13 Hortense Place. Some suspect her death to be a murder masked as a suicide; a feature film exploring this idea, The Case for Elsa Lemp, is in development. As well as a 5 part episodic titled Lemp's Last Wright, that is set to premiere sometime in November 2023.[1
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