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Curse of the Lemp Family

Updated on June 25, 2015

In 1838 Johann Adam Lemp immigrated to St Louis from Germany and opened a small grocery store. One of the products he sold was homemade beer made from a recipe passed down from his father. It was a hit with the locals and within two years he was operating his own small brewery.

But, business was so brisk his little brewery soon couldn’t handle the demand and by 1850 his operation grew to be one of the largest in the city. Adam Lemp died a millionaire in 1862 and the business passed to his son, William, Sr. By the middle 1890s, the Lemp Brewery was a nationally known enterprise.

Although a rich and powerful family they were also apparently cursed. Many tragedies were to befall them, and it’s said some of them still restlessly roam the property. The first was the death of Frederick Lemp, William Sr.’s beloved son and heir apparent in 1901 at the age of 28 of heart failure. The devastated William Sr. became a recluse. He still went to work, but his physical and mental health steadily declined. In February of 1904, he committed suicide by shooting himself in the head. The next heir in line, William Lemp Jr. became the new president of the company now renamed the William J. Lemp Brewing Company.

William Lemp Jr.

Wife Lillian

Apparently drunk with power and wealth, he and his beautiful "trophy wife,” Lillian, began living an extravagant life style. For a while life was good, but William had a penchant for beautiful women and as he began to tire of his wife he began eyeing other attractive ladies. During the day he appeared to be the diligent responsible head of an empire, but during the hours of darkness he became the exact opposite, living a life of decadence.

Below their mansion were many caves. These were used to construct a tunnel from the basement to the brewery. In these tunnels there were also chambers made to house a swimming pool, bowling alley and a lavish bar. There were frequent parties in which the beer flowed freely. He always had numerous prostitutes on hand for the pleasure of his friends.

Will's philandering is said to have produced an illegitimate son with Down's Syndrome although there was never any documentation of this. However, according to several domestic employees the boy was hidden in the attic servant’s quarters his entire life because he was an embarrassment to the family image. The illegitimate child died in his 30s and was buried in the Lemp Cemetery with a small flat marker etched, with the name "Lemp." The boy, referred to as the "Monkey Face Boy," reportedly still haunts the grounds.

Finally, William, Jr. filed for divorce. The court proceedings became a media circus as the media pasted headlines of the proceedings daily and crowds filled the courtroom to capacity. William’s dirty laundry of drunkenness, cruelty and violence became public fodder.

But this was just the beginning of Will’s problems. Shortly after his divorce, his mother lost her battle with cancer and fierce competition with other breweries steadily decreased the family fortune. Will had seemingly lost interest in the business and didn’t keep abreast of newer industry technology. By World War I, the brewery was barely making a profit.

William remarried in 1915 to Ellie Limberg. But the family curse was still taking a toll. Prohibition in 1919 forced the closure of the Lemp brewery. And then William’s sister, Elsa Lemp Wright, shot and killed herself in March of 1920, apparently because over a troubled marriage. William, Jr. slipped into a depression from which he never escaped. On December 29, 1922, William shot himself, in the heart with a .38 caliber revolver. Nearly 20 years laterWilliam Lemp III died of a heart attack at the age of forty-two.William’s brother, Charles, also shot himself in 1949 becoming the 4th member of the family to commit suicide.

The last surviving Lemp was Edwin who had never been interested in the family business and had walked away from it long before. Edwin was a quiet, man who lived a peaceful life in Kirkwood, MO. Edwin passed away at the age of 90 from natural causes in 1970 leaving no heirs. His last wish was to have all family documents, artifacts and vast priceless art collection burned.

After Charles’s death the mansion was sold and turned into a boarding house. However, with the lack of upkeep it soon began to deteriorate along with the neighborhood. The abode became ripe for tales of haunting. Renters began reporting incidents of ghostly knocks and footsteps. It became difficult to find anyone willing to live there. As a result the structure continued to deteriorate.

However, the old building was rescued in 1975, when Dick Pointer and his family bought it. They turned it into a restaurant and inn. During the renovations work crews often reported encountering apparitions and hearing strange sounds. When tools also began to mysteriously vanish, many quit.

Restaurant staff have claimed seeing apparitions appear and hearing strange voices and sounds. Glasses in the bar have been flung by unseen entities. Doors are said to lock and unlock themselves. And lights turn on and off of their own accord. They have also reported hearing the piano bar being played when no one else was in the establishment.The attic is said to be haunted by the "Monkey Face Boy" whose face has regularly been seen from the street peeking out of the windows.

Many women have reported a man peeking over the stall in the downstairs women's bathroom. One returning to the bar angrily accused the two men she was with at the bar stating "I hope you got an eyeful!" The two puzzled patrons however established their alibi with the bartender who verified they had been seated the entire time. The “peeping Tom” ghost is thought to be the philandering William Jr.

For information on tour schedules and admission prices visit: http://www.scarefest.com/haunted_house_in_stlouis_missouri_lempbrewery


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    • MerCyn60 profile image

      MerCyn60 

      6 years ago from New Jersey shore

      An interesting and informative read.

    • JY3502 profile imageAUTHOR

      John Young 

      6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      gmwilliams, Great, then I accomplished my goal.

      Lynn, uh...why are you hanging upside down?

    • profile image

      Lynn S. Murphy 

      6 years ago

      Such a tragic life story.

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 

      6 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      This is an extremely well-researched hub. You did an excellent hub! You have kept me interested and enthralled!

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