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Cragwold, Revisited Christmas 2014

Meramec Valley Estates and Auditorium Building, Chicago 021

Seven years ago, I traveled to the southwestern corner of Kirkwood, where it abuts Sunset Hills to search for the home of Edwin Lemp, the last heir of William Lemp Sr. Edwin’s magnificent country house sits high above the Meramec River, but traces of his estate also lie east of I-270. But first, this barricade blocks people from driving off the old Lemp Road that led up to Big Bend originally; it looks down on 270 now.

Meramec Valley Estates and Auditorium Building, Chicago 005

On the east side, reached by Forest Avenue, Lemp Road has been rerouted by a subdivision that looks to have been laid out in the 1950s. But its name remains.

Meramec Valley Estates and Auditorium Building, Chicago 004

The original gates, which would be locked every night, still stand, their metal rusting away.

Meramec Valley Estates and Auditorium Building, Chicago 003

I believe this house was probably one of the caretakers’ houses.

Meramec Valley Estates and Auditorium Building, Chicago 002

This house below almost certainly was, as its rough stone construction and woodwork mirror that of the main house at Cragwold. I realized that I-270 was constructed while Edwin Lemp was still alive; what did he think of his placid animal park being slashed and crushed apart by interstate construction, a giant trench cutting deep into the hill east of his house? Did he fight it? Or was he too old at that point to fight back? I wish I could have seen this beautiful corner of St. Louis County before it was ruined.

Meramec Valley Estates and Auditorium Building, Chicago 001

6 Comments

  1. I grew up in Kirkwood MO and never knew this was here. Guess next time I’m back I’m back home I will try and find it. Depends on what else I got going on.

    • I didn’t know it was there either for the first 20 years after I moved to St. Louis in 1986. It’s hiding in plain view, almost.

  2. If you go for a hike up the hill in Emmenegger Park, you can see what are supposedly the concrete foundations from Edwin’s zoo. It’s a beautiful walk, especially in the springtime.

    • I need to get back over to the park and poke around some more. Thanks!

  3. The inside of the crag wood house is really nice. Edwin dinning room set is still in the house the owners are really nice people but I am sure a lot of people snoop on the property looking around.

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