10. Lemp Mansion

The Lemp Mansion is located in St. Louis, Missouri, a short distance away from the Mississippi River. Take Broadway from Interstate 55 and follow that to Cherokee Street. Go west on Cherokee and turn right onto De Menil Place. The address of the mansion is 3322. The Pointer Family has owned and operated the Lemp Mansion since 1975.

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When John Adam Lemp arrived in St. Louis from Eschwege, Germany in 1838, he seemed no different from the thousands of other immigrants who poured into the Gateway to the West during the first half of the 19th century. Lemp originally sought his fortune as a grocer. But his store was unique for its ability to supply an item sold by none of his competitors – lager beer. Lemp had learned the art of brewing the effervescent beverage under the tutelage of his father in Eschwege, and the natural cave system under St. Louis provided the perfect temperature for aging beer. Lemp soon realized that the future of lager beer in America was as golden as the brew itself, and in 1840 he abandoned the grocery business to build a modest brewery at 112 S. Second Street. A St. Louis industry was born. The brewery enjoyed marvelous success and John Adam Lemp died a millionaire.

The Lemp Mansion was built in the early 1860’s and was subsequently purchased by William J. Lemp as a residence and auxiliary brewery office. Although it was already an impressive structure, Lemp used his massive brewery fortune to turn the thirty-three room house into a Victorian showplace.

The radiator system was installed in 1884, five years after radiant heat was patented. The grand staircase was removed to accommodate an open-air lift that ran the gamut of the house. The decorative iron gates in the basement restaurant are all that remain of the elevator. In 1904 the house was completely renovated. To the left of the main entrance is the former brewery office, where William Jr. committed suicide. The decorative mantle is Italian marble.

To the right is the parlor, with its hand-painted ceiling and intricately carved mantles of African mahogany. Behind the parlor is an atrium where the Lemps kept exotic plants and birds. The main bathroom is dominated by a unique glass-enclosed, free-standing shower that Lemp discovered in an Italian hotel and brought back to St. Louis for his personal use. Other unusual fixtures in the room are a barber chair and a sink with glass legs. At the rear of the house are three massive vaults that the Lemps built to store great quantities of art objects. The Lemps were such avid art collectors that they could not display all of their acquisitions. Each vault is fifteen feet wide, twenty-five feet deep, and thirteen feet high.

The bedrooms were on the second floor. The main bathroom has a white granite shower stall and a marble and cast-iron mantle. The servants’ quarters were located on the third floor, which boasts cedar walk-in closets, a skylight and an observation deck. The mansion does not have a ballroom in the traditional sense because the Lemps built an auditorium, ballroom and swimming pool in a natural underground cavern that could be reached from a now-sealed tunnel in the basement. Another tunnel led from the house to the brewery.

The wine and beer cellars, laundry and kitchen were located in the basement. The huge kitchen that once served the elite of St. Louis society has been completely modernized and now serves the honored guest of the historic Lemp Mansion Restaurant.

1980, Life Magazine called the Lemp Mansion “one of the ten most haunted places in America”. The Lemp family line died out with him and the family’s resting place can now be found in beautiful Bellefontaine Cemetery. But while no one remains in the Lemp family today, it certainly doesn’t mean that some of them are not still around.

After the death of Charles Lemp, the mansion was sold and turned into a boarding house. Shortly after that, it fell on hard times and began to deteriorate, along with the nearby neighborhood. In later years, stories began to emerge that residents of the boarding house often complained of ghostly knocks and phantom footsteps in the house. As these tales spread, it became increasingly hard to find tenants to occupy the rooms and because of this, the old Lemp Mansion was rarely filled.

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The decline of the house continued until 1975, when Dick Pointer and his family purchased it. The Pointer’s began remodeling and renovating the place, working for many years to turn it into a restaurant and an inn. But the Pointer’s were soon to find out that they were not alone in the house…

The bulk of the remodeling was done in the 1970’s and during this time, workers reported strange things happening in the house, leading many to believe the place was haunted. Reports often varied between feelings of being watched, vanishing tools and strange sounds. Many of the workers actually left the job site and never came back.

Since the restaurant has opened, staff members also have had their own odd experiences. Glasses have been seen to lift off the bar and fly through the air; sounds are often heard that do not have explanation and some have even glimpsed actual apparitions who appear and vanish at will. In addition, many customers and visitors to the house report some pretty weird incidents. It is said that doors lock and unlock on their own; the piano in the bar plays by itself; voices and sounds come from nowhere; and even the spirit of the “Lavender Lady” has been spotted on occasion.

The house has also attracted ghost hunters from around the country, who have come partly due to a November 1980 LIFE magazine article, which named the Lemp Mansion as “one of the most haunted houses in America”. It remains a popular place for dinner and spirits today.

The current owner of the house, Paul Pointer, maintains the place as a wonderful eating and lodging establishment and takes the ghosts as just another part of the strange mansion. “People come here expecting to experience weird things,” he said, ” and fortunately for us, they are rarely disappointed.”

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