Adventuring Stateside: Happy Halloween!

Ahhhhh yes, it is Halloween. The day that the veil between this world and the next is at its thinnest, supposedly giving us mortals our best chance of communicating with the beyond.  More practically, it is the one day of the year that we are allowed to play dress up, take candy from strangers, rock out to the Ghostbusters theme, and scare the living daylights out of each other. It really is the best day.

Not to mention the joy of pumpkin carving! This pumpkinhead from Halloween past was met with a bit of distrust from the cats.

Anyhoo, as I said, Halloween is about scaring people, along with ghosts and goblins and the things that go bump in the night. So, as a little Halloween treat I’m going to take you to the spookiest haunted house I know: The Lemp Mansion in St. Louis, Missouri.

The Lemp Mansion at night

In the mid-1800’s, before the “King of Beers” was much more than a local brewery, the Lemps were building one of the largest, most innovative and powerful breweries in the United States. But by the mid 1900’s it was all gone. In those years, the Lemps enjoyed one of the biggest beer brands in the nation and amazing wealth – but those years also brought family misfortune, a headline-grabbing divorce, prohibition and three suicides in the family home. Much of what the Lemp family built is gone now, but their old mansion remains.

The Atrium, one of my favorite rooms in the mansion

When I was young, my Mom would drive my brother and I by the old mansion to tell us the Lemp’s story. She also enjoyed putting a little scare into us – after all, rumor had it that a few ghostly Lemps might still be rattling around the house. Their story captured our imagination and we loved visiting the house to try and see something otherworldly. By that time a new family had purchased the house, and began faithfully restoring it as a restaurant/bed and breakfast.

The front dining room

As the mansion began to operate as a restaurant and restoration continued, people began to report strange happenings: ghostly footsteps, voices and apparitions. Today it attracts ghost hunters eager to communicate with any Lemps who might still be roaming the halls.

A close-up on one of the beautiful fireplaces in the home

So, is it haunted? Well with such a history it really should be, right? I’ve stayed overnight there twice, and while I haven’t come face to ghostly face with anyone, I can tell you that I’ve heard the piano play on its own, and a stack of dishes crash a few empty floors below (no broken dishes were ever found).

A group of ghost hunters head in. Wonder what they'll find...

Whether the Lemp Mansion is truly haunted or not is almost beside the point. The Lemp’s story is fascinating and heartbreaking; they built their American dream but then had to watch it slip away. I hope for their sake the Lemps are able to get some rest after all of that, but it really is more fun to think that they are still walking the halls of that beautiful mansion just waiting for an unsuspecting guest to come face to face with the past.

The Lion of Beers

Want to learn more about the Lemp family? Two excellent books have been written on them: Lemp: The Haunting History by Stephen P. Walker and Suicide and Spirits by Troy Taylor.

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