Saturday, April 4, 2015

HGB Podcast 38 - Lemp Mansion

Moment in Oddity - Tragic Coincidence for Brothers

Many brothers enjoy sharing experiences with each other. The enjoyable experiences may be fishing trips, road trips, a family barbeque or other bonding event. Some shared experiences can be tragic and this one in particular is not only deadly, it is a bizarre coincidence. Bermuda is a beautiful island, small enough for residents to get around by moped. Neville Ebbin was seventeen and he owned a moped. The year was 1975. He was riding along one of Bermuda's busiest roadways when tragedy occured. A taxi driver, who was either not paying attention or driving like a typical taxi driver in Bermuda - which is completely erratically based on my personal experience - hit Neville and the moped, killing the young man. Erskin Lawrence Ebbin was Neville's younger brother and he manged to get the moped working again. Erskin went riding on that same main drag where his brother was killed. He too was killed. He was also seventeen at the time. He was riding the same moped that his brother had been riding when he was killed. It was a taxi that hit and killed him as well. As a matter of fact, it was the exact same taxi driver that hit him. Both brothers were killed at the same age, while riding the same moped on the same road by the same taxi driver. Now that coincidence certainly is odd!

This Day in History - Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

On this day, April 4th, in 1968, civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. is assassinated. King began his civil rights activism in 1955 when he led the Montgomery Bus Boycott. For years, he continued the fight to rid the nation of segregation. In 1963, he organized the March on Washington and gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech at that time. King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 and the following year, he led the March from Selma to Montgomery. Throughout these years, he received numerous death threats. He told his wife after President Kennedy was assassinated, "This is what is going to happen to me also. I keep telling you, this is a sick society." On April 3, 1968, King had gone to Memphis to give what would be his last speech, "I've Been to the Mountaintop." He retired for the night in his usual room, 306, at the Lorraine Hotel. The following day, King went out onto the balcony a little after 6pm. He was struck by a bullet fired from a Remington Model 760 in the cheek. The bullet passed through his jaw and some vertebrae and his jugular vein was severed. King was rushed to St. Joseph's Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 7:05pm. The assassin was James Earl Ray, who was staying at a room across the street at a boarding house. He fled the scene leaving behind a rifle and binoculars. He was arrested two months later and sentenced to 99 years in jail. He died in jail in 1998 at the age of 70. There are many who believe Ray was a scapegoat and that the US government assassinated Martin Luther King, Jr.

Lemp Mansion

The Lemp family and lager beer go hand in hand. What started out as a grocery business grew into a beer empire in St. Louis, Missouri that brought success and wealth to the Lemp family. But the history of the Lemp family is far from happy. Their story is one of sadness and tragedy. And that tragedy has led to rumors of hauntings at their home, the Lemp Mansion, in St. Louis.

In 1793, Johann Adam Lemp was born in Gruningen, which is located in the German province of Hessen. Everyone called Johann by the name Adam and he spent his youth learning the brewer's trade, eventually becoming a master brewer. He set his sights on America and sailed for the land of opportunity in 1836. He headed for Cincinnati, Ohio, but decided he would rather be further west and he moved to St. Louis, Missouri in 1838. Adam decided that he wanted to make his way in the grocery business and he opened a small grocer. This does not mean he gave up brewing beer. He continued and before long, his grocery store was the only one selling beer in the area. Adam brewed vinegar as well.

The beer and vinegar sales were good and Adam decided that perhaps he should put his focus on those two items. The William J. Lemp Brewing Company was established officially sometime between 1840 and 1842. Records disagree with each other on the actual year. Adam opened a new factory at 112 South Second Street between Walnut and Elm Streets and the plant manufactured vinegar and beer. A pub was built onto the factory and this is where Adam sold his beer. By 1845, Adam was brewing only beer at his brewery. Some claim that Adam was the first to brew lager beer, having brought the yeast over with him from Germany. We will let beer historians argue on that point, but suffice it to say that Adam Lemp had a unique commodity and people were buying it up and he was the first to bring brewing to St. Louis. Lager beer was unique in that it did not have to be refrigerated or drunk quickly before it would go bad. It's yeast is bottom fermenting, while most ales have a top fermenting yeast.

The success of the Lemp Brewing Company led to a big issue. The factory was too small to store all the beer during the lager process. Adam came up with an ingenious solution. A natural limestone cave had been discovered on the outskirts of town and Lemp found that if they used ice from the Mississippi River to keep the cave cold, he could use it to store his beer during the lager process. The cave held twenty to thirty barrels of beer and by the end of 1845, 3,000 barrels of beer had been stored in the cave. The brewery continued to grow and by 1850, it was producing 40,000 barrels of beer annually worth $24,000. In 1858, Adam's beer captured first place at the St. Louis Fair.

Adam Lemp died in 1862 and while he was not a millionaire, he was very wealthy and had become known as the father of beer in St. Louis. His funeral procession had thirty horse drawn carriages. Adam left the brewery to both his son William Jacob Lemp and grandson Charles Brauneck. The will stipulated that if either contested the will, then the other man would receive the full inheritance, so apparently the father and son did not get along. The two formed a partnership and changed the name to William J. Lemp & Co. The partnership only lasted two years and William bought out Charles. William had learned brewing when he was younger and already had a successful brewery in St. Louis. His experience helped him to make the Lemp Brewery twice as successful as it had been under his father. William built a new factory over the limestone storage cave. He moved on to establish coast to coast distribution. The Lemp Brewery was the first to accomplish this feat. The future was bright and William was grooming his favorite son to take over the operation.

The Lemp Mansion was built in 1868 by William's father-in-law Jacob Feikert. The architecture was Italianate and when William purchased the home in 1876, he expanded the house to thirty-three rooms and added Victorian decor. He also had three huge vaults built where the family would store all their valuables including artwork when they left town. A tunnel was built between the house and the brewery and a portion of the limestone cave was converted to a ballroom, auditorium and swimming pool. These were accessed via another tunnel that no longer is open. In 1884, a radiator system was installed. Radiant heat had been patented five years earlier. An open air elevator was installed where the grand staircase had been several years later. Today, only a portion of the lift still exists.  The parlor's ceiling was hand-painted and the fireplace mantels were made from intricately carved African mahogany. An atrium was located behind the parlor and exotic plants and birds were kept here. A unique feature of the main bathroom was a glass-enclosed, free-standing shower that William had discovered at an Italian hotel and brought back to St. Louis. The house also featured a sink with glass legs and a barber chair. The bedrooms were on the second floor with the servants' quarters on the third floor. The third floor also had an observation deck and skylight. Another bathroom in the mansion featured a white granite shower stall and a marble and cast-iron mantle. The basement held the wine cellar and kitchen and their was a laundry room down there as well. The kitchen was completely modernized at the time.

All seemed well until 1901. Frederick Lemp was William's fourth son and his favorite son and he was heir apparent. In 1901, he died under mysterious circumstances, but Frederick had multiple health issues and it is believed he died of heart failure.. William was devastated by the death of his son and he spiralled into a depression. In 1904, William shot himself in the head in his bedroom in the mansion and died. It was only the first of several suicides to take place in the Lemp family.

William Lemp, Jr. had gone to the same university as his father and he had studied brewing of beer as well. He married Lillian Handlan in 1899. She was known as the "Lavender Lady" because it was her favorite color. She painted her carriages in that color and most of her wardrobe consisted of that color. William Jr. took over operations at the brewery and he continued the success his father had with the brewery. He also moved into the Lemp Mansion. Unbeknownst to the Lemp family and beer and liquor makers across America, temperance was gaining a foothold and Prohibition was on its way. The cave swimming pool became a place for true decadence. William hosted lavish parties where he supplied his wealthy friends with prostitutes and liquor. It was during this time that it is rumored that William fathered an illegitimate son who was born with Down Syndrome. The boy was reportedly hidden in the attic during his lifetime. In 1908, Lilly filed for divorce from William Jr. claiming abandonment and cruelty. She got custody of their child, William III. Problems would continue for William Jr. finally culminating in the brewery shutting down in 1919 because of Prohibition. Falstaff was the name the Lemp family had given their beer and the trademark was sold off and the brewery was auctioned off to the International Shoe Company. William Jr. fell into despair and in 1922 he shot himself in the front left dining room of the mansion, which was his office at the time.

William Jr. was probably not only depressed over his failed business, but over the death of his youngest sister, Elsa Lemp Wright, the wealthiest heiress in St. Louis. She had been William Sr.'s youngest child and had married a man named Thomas with whom she had a horrible relationship and they divorced. She claimed she had suffered mental cruelty. She did reconcile with Thomas, but in 1920, she shot herself in the head while in bed at her and Thomas' home. So by 1922, three of the Lemps have committed suicide.

William Sr.'s son Charles took over residence at the Lemp Mansion after his nephew's suicide in 1929. He lived a reclusive life and possibly went a little nuts. In 1941, he sent a letter to a funeral home stating that when he died, he wanted his body taken to the Missouri Crematory and that it should not be clothed, bathed or changed in any way. He wanted to be cremated and have his ashes put in a wicker box and buried on his farm and he wanted no funeral. Eight years later, he would shoot his dog dead and then turn the gun on himself and shoot himself in the head.

William III would die before his uncle Charles in 1943 from a heart attack when he was only forty-two years of age. Edwin was the last of William Sr.'s children and he died at ninety in 1970. He had all the family heirlooms and artwork burned. The Lemp Mansion had earlier fallen into decline. The mansion was sold in 1949 and no longer belonged to the Lemp family. It became a boarding house. In the 1960s, construction on the Ozark Expressway caused the mansion to lose much of its grounds and two carriage houses. It fell into further disrepair until 1975, when the Pointer Family bought the property and restored it. The building is now the Lemp Mansion Restaurant and Inn. The Inn has six suites, each named for a member of the Lemp family. Special events are held regularly and the Lemp Experience and haunted tours are hosted.

Tragedy and hauntings go hand in hand and the Lemp Mansion is no exception. The home is considered to be one of the most haunted locations in America. Boarding house residents were the first to complain about hearing disembodied footsteps. During renovations of the mansion, workers experienced slamming doors, an oppressive feeling throughout the mansion and other strange noises. A painter who had been working on restoring the painted ceiling, quit because he could not handle the oppressiveness of the house any longer. Restaurant employees have reported footsteps, strange noises, seeing apparitions appear and disappear and glasses have gone flying off the bar all by themselves.

William Jr.'s illegitimate son had been nicknamed cruelly, "Monkey Faced Boy." He died in the mansion during the time that Charles lived there when he was in his thirties. People reportedly see the face of a young boy with Down Syndrome peaking out of the attic windows. Paranormal investigators have brought toys into the attic and drawn circles around them, only to find them moved later. EVPs of a young voice saying, "Come play with me" have been recorded and even guests claim to hear the same thing audibly.

The women's bathroom has become home to the leering eye of William Jr. One woman had been at the bar with two male friends. She excused herself and while she was doing her business, she looked up and saw a man peeking over the stall. She returned to her male companions and remarked that she hoped they had gotten an eyeful. Both denied being the peeping Tom. William Jr. also apparently kicks the door to the bedroom that had been his father's room. It is believed that William Jr. had kicked at the door to get through it after his father committed suicide.

The staircase features the disembodied footsteps of someone running quickly up the stairs and glowing orbs have been witnessed moving up and down the stairs. The back staircase is where Charles' dog is heard panting and clicking his paws against the floor. In William Sr.'s room, a white glowing apparition with a beard was seen near the sliding door that leads to the bathroom. The Lavendar Lady Suite occassionally has a distinctly lavendar scent, the door opens on its own even after being locked and a shadow figure has been witnessed. The diminuitive Lavendar Lady has sometimes been seen as a full bodied appartion. A piano on the first floor plays itself occassionally. The tunes are usually Rag-time.

A tour guide was strolling the grounds and reported hearing something that many people have claimed to hear. The sound is that of horses braying and snorting with bridles clinking. The area that this is heard is where the carriage houses had once been. The basement is reportedly a scary place and has been nicknamed the "Gates of Hell." An angry shadowy presence seems to hang out near the sealed off tunnel. Perhaps he is angry he can't get into the party. A white, misty apparition has been seen and when photographed, a white orb appeared on film.

Legends of America toured the mansion and they report on their website:
 "As we began to make our way back down the stairs and passed by William Lemp Sr's room, Amy pulled me aside because the door was standing wide open, with the key in the door. Not going in, we just wanted to peek. We continued our journey down the hall when an alarm was raised by the guests of the room. When they had arrived back from dinner, they found the door wide open and were looking for a manager. However, there was no key in the door when they arrived. A manager quickly responded -- it was "impossible" that there had been a key in the door, as there were only two keys to that room. One was in the hands of the guest, the other in the hands of the manager. So, who opened the door, and where was the key that we saw when we passed?

Later, several members of the group would describe having passed a man in the hallway, holding a key in his hand and described as acting irritated with the large group moving through the hallway. Described as pale, older, and wearing a white shirt and black pants, no one thought anything of it at the time, believing him to be a member of the staff. However, we would find that there was no such gentlemen working or staying at the mansion that night that met that description. Though no harm was done and nothing was disturbed in the guest room, the whole experience was very bizarre."
Delisa on TripAdvisor reported:
"When we got there we found out that my husband, stepdaughter and I were the only ones staying in the house that night. We had the lavender room and Elsa's room. Around one in the morning we heard voices talking down the hall on the third floor. While sitting in the Elsa room we also heard something crawling down the hall. It was terrifying. My stepdaughter stayed the night on the couch in the Lavender room with us. I did not sleep at all. We didn't even turn down the beds."
Did tragedy leave the Lemp Mansion ripe for hauntings? Are the only ones in the mansion those that are still living? Is the Lemp Mansion haunted? That is for you to decide!

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