Sunday, October 17, 2021

Dining with the Dead


October is always a great time to ponder the oddities of life, the weird things we notice but then promptly forget.


When asked, we can quickly conjure up haunted houses, insane asylums, and spooky rural roads for common sites of paranormal activity. But haunted restaurants are a thing, too. And there are a lot of them in the U.S. Today, let's whet your appetite for the macabre at the Lemp Mansion in St. Louis.


Johann Adam Lemp

Named one of the “Ten Spookiest Buildings in the World” by CNN Travel, the Lemp Family Mansion has had numerous paranormal groups investigate. But why does this stately home have such a tragic reputation? Maybe it has something to do with the four suicides here – two in the same room.

Johann Adam Lemp arrived in the U.S. from Germany. He operated a grocery for a few years before delving into the brewing industry and starting the Western Brewing Company.


By the 1850s, Lemp’s Extra Pale Ale was a huge success, and the family became part of the reigning beer empire in the city.


William Lemp Sr.

 Adam Lemp died in 1862, and his son William took over the business.

In 1876, William Lemp, Jr. purchased the mansion from his father-in-law to use as a residence and headquarters to the brewing company.



Although the Lemp Western Brewery was the first to have coast-to-coast beer distribution with their “Falstaff” label, obstacles were mounting in the way of their brewing success – mainly the Anheuser-Busch family.


The first family death occurred in 1901 when Lemp Sr.’s heir-apparent son, Fredrick, died of heart failure at 28.

William Lemp Sr. was inconsolable, and three years later shot himself with a .38-caliber revolver in his brewery office.


William Lemp Sr.

His son, William Lemp Jr. moved his family into the mansion and kept it as the company’s headquarters. With Prohibition bearing down, the Lemp family knew their lives would be changing.



The Catacombs
As the spoiled son of a rich man, Lemp took up a decadent lifestyle.
He demanded his wife spend $1,000 a day so others could see how affluent they were. He began entertaining “friends” in the catacombs created under the mansion.  


It was rumored that Lemp Jr. had an illegitimate child with another woman. The boy was said to be born with Down syndrome, so to keep gossip at bay, Lemp hid the child in the attic, forcing him to live there with only servants to tend him.


Known as “Monkey Face Boy,” the unwanted child remained hidden away until he died in his thirties. He is possibly one of the “long-term residents” of the mansion.


Elsa Lemp Wright

Elsa Lemp Wright, Lemp, Sr’s daughter, shot herself in her home on March 20, 1920. She was said to be despondent over her failed marriage.




Lemp Brewery

In 1922, William Lemp, Jr. sold the money-making “Falstaff” logo to another brewer. He then sold the brewery buildings for a pittance of what they had been worth before Prohibition. On December 29, William announced he would sell the mansion. With that, he went into his office and shot himself in the heart - 18 years after his father’s suicide.


The family decided not to sell the property, although they would no longer preside over a brewing empire in St. Louis.

In 1949, Charles Lemp – William Jr’s brother, took his life in the same office, ending the family’s residency in the building.


The mansion was soon sold and turned into a boarding house. It was then when talk of spirits began to fly. Investigators have suggested that up to nine spirits reside in the home, mainly in the attic, on the stairs, and in the basement near the entrance to the catacombs - referred to by restaurant staff as “The Gates of Hell.”



Employees and patrons have reported hearing footsteps when no one was in the vicinity. The sound of rapping has been heard along with the occasional appearance of an apparition. Doors lock and unlock themselves, and the piano will play when no one is nearby.


In 1975, Dick Pointer saw the ghost angle as a business opportunity and turned it into a restaurant and hotel.


Today the Lemp Mansion has been restored to its turn-of-the-century style. It now boasts a fine dining restaurant, dinner theatre, and inn. Tours of the facility are available.


Now is the perfect time for a ghostly get-away to the Lemp Mansion. Haunted history tours are offered, but October events sell out quickly. Regular Monday evening tours are held year-round.


Although I have not spent the night, I have dined here. And it is indeed well worth putting on your bucket list of “must-see” places, especially during the witching month.

~ Joy


Friday, October 8, 2021

Capturing Spirits in Photographs


 It's the most wonderful time of the year ... Welcome to October! This month, we'll explore the odd events, and bizarre findings that make our world wonderfully spooky and weird.


The Fox Sisters

It all began in 1848 in Hydesville, New York when the Fox sisters claimed to be able to communicate with the spirits through rappings. Only years later did one of the sisters confess to a large audience that it had all be a hoax; the girls had the sounds by manipulating their joints.



Spiritualism and spirit photography became popular after the Civil War, thanks, in part, to First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln. Mary had lost two sons, Willie at age eleven, and Eddy at the age of four. When a group of mediums known as the Lauries approached her, Mary began attending seances in Georgetown. She got so much from them that she held more than half a dozen seances in the Red Room of the White House.


Mary with Abe's "Ghost" 

These “visits” from her dead sons offered her solace, and a means to go on. When her husband, President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, Mary began “talking” with him, too. Other bereft families throughout the country were also seeking to communicate with their lost loved ones. In fact, by 1897, more than eight million Americans believed in spiritualism. And spirit photography helped make the metaphysical seem real.


One of the better-known U.S. spirit photographers was William Mumler of Boston. He is the person who took the photo of Mary Lincoln with the “ghost” of Abraham leaning over her. Mumler left Boston after being accused of faking his photos by double exposing the photographic plates. He moved to New York where he was put on trial for the same charge in 1868. Mumler was acquitted due to lack of evidence, but this ended his spirited career.


A Spirited Brother

In typical spirit photos, faces and heads appeared hovering over the shoulder or head of the living subject. These faces usually had a connection to the living – a husband, wife, parent, sibling or child who had passed on. Most were said to be created by double exposure, or having an accomplice step from behind the curtain as a subject sat for a portrait, thereby imposing the image of another person on the plate.

Maggie Fox

In 1888, Maggie Fox appeared at the New York Academy of Music and confessed before a large audience that she and her sisters had created the mystical rappings by manipulating their toe joints and knuckles. She proceeded to remove her shoes and show the audience how she could  "rap her toes." One year later, she recanted, but the damage had been done. By the close of the century, spiritualism was losing its bewildering hold.     


Doyle and a Ghost

World War One brought a resurgence of spiritualism and ghost photos. Again, the nation attempted to reach beyond the veil to communicate with lost husbands, fathers, and brothers who had perished during the Great War. In 1916, Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, attested to the legitimacy of ghosts in his book, The Case of Spirit Photography.


Houdini & Fake Lincoln Ghost

But magician Harry Houdini wound up on the other side of the pall. Houdini had attended seances to contact his dead mother, but soon realized that the mediums were fakes. He then wrote a book, A Magician Among the Spirits, which detailed how mediums created their illusions.


The Brown Lady

The most famous ghost photograph was taken in 1936 at Raynham Hall in Norfolk England. In it, the Brown Lady can be seen descending the manor staircase. Supposedly, this is the ghost of Lady Dorothy Walpole (1686-1726) whose husband locked her in her room after discovering an alleged affair with Lord Warton. She died there of smallpox in 1726.

Her ghost was first seen during the Holiday celebrations in 1835. The ghost was sighted again in 1926, and photographed in 1936. Charges of fraud were quickly issued, and ranged from double exposure to rubbing grease on the camera lens in the shape of a figure. No resolution was ever reached.


Orbs - What are they?

Today, spirit photographers say it is hard to be taken seriously with the hoaxes of the past. When they photograph orbs, many claim it's backscatter caused by the reflection of particles or waves sent back in the direction they came from. But others claim these orbs indicate the presence of spirits, and life from the beyond.



The Lady in White

Regardless of whether you believe in the presence of spirits, and the ability to visually capture them, there are numerous photographs that have been taken over the decades that defy explanation; the Brown Lady being one of them. Also questionable is this photo of the Lady in White in Bachelors Grove Cemetery in Chicago.



Can a spirit’s presence be visually captured? 


It remains in the eye of the beholder.


~ Joy

Friday, July 2, 2021

Haunted Hayswood Hospital for Sale

Have you ever wanted to own your own haunted house? What if you could up the ante and own a haunted hospital? Well, this may be the opportunity you’ve always wanted. Kentucky Commercial Property Search is billing this location as “the second most haunted place in Kentucky.”


The History

Located in Maysville Kentucky, with a view of the Ohio River, the building originally operated as the Wilson Infirmary in the 1800s. When the owner, Mary Peale Wilson died in 1908, the building was demolished. 


In 1915, Hayswood Seminary, a private school for girls, was opened. A fourth-floor was added in 1925 with another addition built on in 1971. 



In 1931, the facility opened as Hayswood Hospital and could accommodate more than 75 patients - residents of Cincinnati, southwestern Ohio and Mason County Kentucky.



In 1942, the US Navy sent naval personnel who had been psychologically
traumatized by the attack on Pearl Harbor to the facility for treatment. In 1983, the hospital was closed as medical needs changed and a new facility opened south of town.


Today, it is reported that medical equipment, furniture and some of the patient’s rooms are still intact. Other areas have been vandalized or damaged by the elements encroaching through broken windows.

The Hauntings

There have been reports of flickering lights, an oppressiveness near the structure and a tall man standing in one of the third-floor windows. Inside the building, people report the feeling of being watched even followed by shadows. A woman who carries her newborn baby down the hallways. Red eyes have been glimpsed in rooms along with cold spots felt throughout the hospital. Disembodied voices can be heard, and a stretcher rolls along on its own. And, of course, the morgue area is a hotbed of activity.



But those who worked there in the 1970s and early 80s say that the hospital was haunted even back then. Patients reported seeing doctors and nurses from another era walking the halls. The Travel Channels Ghost Asylum did a piece on it and several paranormal groups have down investigations.


The Property for Sale

The brick building, composed of four stories, is made up of 80,000 square feet located on nearly 3 acres with ample parking. Zoned commercial, this could become a tourist paranormal hotspot for a haunted venue, restaurant, hotel, apartments or maybe, just for a personal residence. The asking price for Hayswood is $800,000 but some judicious bargaining may get the price lowered. The last sale was in 2018.


Keep in mind that to open the building to the public, major repairs need to be made including floors and stairs along with asbestos cleanup. Cleanup has been estimated to be in the millions.


Today, the property is secured with fences, and the windows are boarded up. Maysville police will arrest any trespassers and file federal trespassing charges – no exceptions.

Contact Kurt Schuler with KCREA at and search for Hayswood Hospital for the details.

~ Joy