St. Louis’ Historic Wealthy Houses Preview

People love “Before They Were Famous” photos. This made me wonder about where some of St. Louis’ most prominent captains of industry lived before they moved into their famous estates. These pre-celebrity homes are almost all gone. They were either destroyed by urban renewal or simply the natural expansion of downtown during the 20th century. It’s difficult to believe that a cluster of German-American business leaders lived in the area where the Clinton-Peabody Housing Project is located. The land was also home to some of St. Louis’ most prominent families, such as the Chouteau’s. We can reconstruct some of the histories of these houses by looking at historical photographs.

Let’s begin with the Busch family. The mansion located in Grant’s Farm is a landmark structure that August A. Busch Sr. was built in 1910. Eberhard Anheuser, and his son-in-law Adolphus Busch, lived in many other homes around St. Louis. Lucky for us, William Swekosky took a photograph of Adolphus Busch at 1838 Kennett Place. The house is still standing and has been beautifully restored in Lafayette Square. Compton and Dry’s 1876 pictorial St. Louis gives us a glimpse at what Busch and Anheuser’s homes looked like after they moved to the exurbs.

I have written previously about the giant house Adolphus Busch built on the brewery grounds. But, I found new photos of the interior as well as an exterior that provides new insights into the house. The hulking structure to the south may be the original country Italianate home of his father-in-law. There were other members of the Busch clan who lived nearby. Carl Busch was the son of Adolphus. He lived in 1111 Arsenal, just a few steps from the brewery. It was a solidly middle-class home that has been replaced by a tall building that runs along the street.

August “Gussie” A. Busch Jr. lived at Grant’s Farm until 1934 when his father August Busch Sr. died. The Busch brothers’ “starter houses” increased in size as the brewery became more successful. Gussie moved to 5577 Lindell Boulevard, just north of Forest Park. W.C. Persons took a beautiful photograph of the house. Persons show how luxuriously it was decorated when Gussie lived there.

I have written previously about the houses that are located atop the Meramec River bluffs, which were owned by the Griesedieck-Lemp families. They also had distant ancestors who lived in far less well-off houses in the city, which were long ago demolished. Anton Griesedieck was, for example, the father of four sons who would start their branches of the family brewery business. He lived at 1805 Lami Street. Unfortunately, this street was destroyed by the Ozark Expressway, now Interstate 55. It was just east of the future Griesedieck Brothers Brewery, and later Falstaff Plant No. 10 was operated by his grandsons and sons. After his father’s death, Joseph Griesedieck also lived in the house. It was converted into an investment property in 1900 and later sold to Byron Sharp. It’s a well-maintained house that reflects the lifestyle of a successful German American businessman who lived on the Near South Side in St. Louis.

Adam, the founder of the Lemp dynasty died in 1862. He never saw the Lemp Mansion at South St. Louis. Jacob Feickert, his friend, built the house shortly after his death. Adam Lemp spent most of his life as a brewer in an apartment above his saloon at South Second Street. He would later build a country villa at DeMenil Place, which is only documented through fragmentary photos. Adam’s son William Lemp Sr. took over the house that Feickert owned.

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