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Perfectly Lonely and Snowy City of Souls – Return to Bellefontaine Cemetery, St. Louis

Hilts Bronze Angel

All winter long I’ve been anxiously awaiting the perfect day to return to Bellefontaine Cemetery under snow cover. I’d been once before, though things were much greener then, and I didn’t have my new camera, or the photography skills that I’ve gained this year.   

Hilts Bronze Angel

Opening in 1849, Bellefontaine (pronounced “bell fountain” by most St. Louisans) was designed by Almerin Hotchkiss (Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York) and consists of 314 acres of park-like beauty with mausoleums as far as the eye can see. It truly is a small city. Among other big names from the region, you’ll find the resting places of Adolphus Busch (beer giant), William ClarkSara Teasdale, and the infamous Lemp family.

 

Since it was 28 degrees and I knew once I made it there I’d be on foot for a few hours, I bundled in layers and prepared as if I was on a journey to climb Mount Everest. The always-kind and wonderful workers in the office mentioned that the roads were drivable, but they didn’t seem too confident in that statement, so I decided to walk. They encouraged me to take a map and keep the office number on hand. I guess that’s what they do when they see out-of-shape fat guys drop by for photos in the winter. I figured I’d stay close to the main entrance and photograph what I could until it got cold or I felt I was going too far into the cemetery. I didn’t know until later that I’d walked a pretty massive circle that covered most of the popular and historical monuments on the driving tour.

 

 

As I bravely started out, I couldn’t help but notice that my car was the only guest car in the lot. It appeared I was going to be very alone on this journey. Awesome! It was also very quiet, other than the crows flying around, keeping their distance, and warning others of my presence. It was creepy and cool at the same time.

 

With every hill I kept finding beautiful excuses to keep going further. I was impressed that I found a few sites by memory, such as the famous “Girl in the Glass Box”. Even as I detoured off the road and trudged through snow as I found interesting shots, I felt confident I knew where I was and what direction I’d need to head once I decided to go back. I never pulled out the map, or my iPhone, for that matter. 

The famous Luyties “Girl in the Glass Box”

I’m not entirely sure I can describe to you how pleasant and enjoyable this was for me. I mean, I obviously enjoy spending time in cemeteries a little more than the average person, but to be alone (truly alone, I never saw another guest) in the middle of such a beautifully massive city of buried souls, in the middle of winter, enjoying the peace and quiet, with the added risk of getting lost or frozen before dark, was truly an amazing experience. I suppose this risk of being found frozen Jack-Nicholson-in-“The Shining” style could be why one of the workers came by in a cemetery truck as I was on the opposite end of the cemetery an hour and a half later… just checking. I waved and smiled and continued on.

Tate Mausoleum

 

Close up of the Tate Mausoleum doors

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The Francis Grieving Woman

I have to be honest, two hours later, as it got a bit darker, there was a moment when I wasn’t sure exactly where I was or if I was going in the right direction. I wasn’t lost for long, but I made the conscious decision to stop photographing so that I could focus on looking for the main entrance. It’s at this point that I nervously picked up the pace and started to feel the burn in my hips and joints. I couldn’t wait to find the car. A few minutes later I found it off in the distance, but I couldn’t believe how far away I was on the complete opposite side of where I’d been. I truly had made a pretty big circle. When I got to my car, the same cemetery worker was standing guard at the gate, probably relieved that he wouldn’t have to go searching for me again in the dark. I’d made it back forty-five minutes before the gates close and had been walking just over two hours.

 

The massive and very popular Adolphus Busch (of Anheuser-Busch Brewery) Mausoleum

 

Through the gate of the Adolphus Busch (of Anheuser-Busch Brewery) Mausoleum

 

Close up shot of the gate of the Adolphus Busch (of Anheuser-Busch Brewery) Mausoleum

 

These decorative symbols are a part of the bottom of the gate of the Adolphus Busch (of Anheuser-Busch Brewery) Mausoleum

 

 

I sat for a while and relaxed in my car as if I’d truly conquered my own Everest. I had hundreds of photos that I was so very excited about! I couldn’t wait to get home and check them out. I took a deep breath, texted Joe to let him know I was alive, and then I drove the hour-long trip home with a wind-burned face. 

 




 

Again, the Hilts Bronze Angel

 

Before I leave, I wanted to make you aware of my Flickr page, where all of my newest and favorite photography, including this set, is being stored. Please feel free to drop by, comment, or share any of the photos.

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Thanks for your support!

Patrick

 

 

 


The Lemp Mansion in St. Louis…

 

A few nights ago I had the pleasure of joining some friends for dinner on “The Hill” and an evening at the famous Lemp Mansion in St. Louis, Missouri. I’ve wanted to see the place for several years but just never made it there. I’d heard stories, I have driven by, I’ve read about it online, and at one point I even became fascinated with checking out the many videos and photos that visitors to the Lemp had posted online from their experiences. Then just a few years ago the Ghost Hunters filmed an episode there and its popularity has since exploded. Now it has kind of become one of those touristy ghost traps. Very cool for people who are into the paranormal, but for people seriously studying it, it’s just a side effect of the great paranormal craze.

 

 

The name of the event we attended was “The New Generation of Ghost Hunting”. When I realized this I rolled my eyes (even though I was by myself). I braced myself for having to listen to a redneck paranormal team discussing orbs, or how a flashing meter would prove the existence of a ghost in the room, or some other controversial topic that the average innocent tourist would fall for. You just never know with some of the irresponsible paranormal groups out there. I kind of decided that instead of attending as an investigator/researcher who would catch them in their gimmicks, I would zip my mouth shut and have fun as a tourist.

 

 

It turns out that the two people from the paranormal group that ran the event and tour that evening were pretty cool. Just lighthearted good fun. The cheesiest thing was that every other person got a camcorder with infrared illuminators for walking around in the dark. And the dark is probably what annoyed me the most. Not because I was afraid of it, but because I just wanted to see the place and take some pictures. I quickly handed off my camcorder to a stranger so that I could actually be present and take some really bad pictures with a flash in the darkness. But the young woman who led my tour was nice enough to allow me to follow her back through the house after it was all said and done so that I could take pictures with the lights on.

 

 

Once again, I’m definitely not a photographer, but I hope you enjoy some of these shots. 

For those not familiar with the story or if you would like more information, here are some good sites. 

www.lempmansion.com
www.legendsofamerica.com/mo-lempmansion.html

 

The Lemp family mausoleum, located at Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis.

The Lemp family mausoleum, located at Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis.

 

 

 

 

 


Bellefontaine Cemetery, St. Louis, Missouri…

It is a cemetery that could keep you busy for days… weeks even. And it’s the largest and possibly the most beautiful cemetery I’ve ever seen. Opening in 1849, Bellefontaine (pronounced “bell fountain” by most St. Louisans) consists of 314 acres of park-like beauty with mausoleums as far as the eye can see. Too many to count. Even with a driving tour map it’s easy to get lost. But trust me, it’s worth it. Among other movers and shakers from the region, you’ll find the resting places of Adolphus Busch (beer giant), William Clark, Sara Teasdale, and the infamous Lemp family. You can find more beautiful photos on Bellefontaine’s Facebook page. There are also several resources on their beautiful website. When Joe and I visited we were greeted by really friendly staff, and they went out of their way to make our visit a nice one.  

Enjoy these photos from our visit…

 

“The Girl In the Glass Box” Herman Luyties 1871-1921

 

 

 

 

The family mausoleum of the infamous Lemps.

 

The family mausoleum of the infamous Lemps.

 

Back window. Family mausoleum of the infamous Lemps.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

William Clark 1770 – 1838

 

Busch Mausoleum
Adolphus Busch 1839 – 1913
Lilly Anheuser Busch 1844 – 1928

 

Busch Mausoleum
Adolphus Busch 1839 – 1913
Lilly Anheuser Busch 1844 – 1928

 

 

 

If you’re hungry for more information on those buried at Bellefontaine, check out Movers and Shakers, Scalawags and suffragettes: Tales from Bellefontaine Cemetery by Carol Ferring Shepley. I picked this book up at the cemetery office. It’s proudly shelved in my personal library. 

 

 

 

 

 


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