Update: See additional photographs from later visits.
It came to my attention recently that the Lemp family had a western outpost in St. Louis County named Cragwold, now in Kirkwood. You can read about the Lemps here in my archive of St. Louis Magazine articles; Edwin Lemp, the last son, built the Cragwold Estate. The mansion overlooks the Meramec Valley on the edge of a cliff; it is a bit confusing to explain how to get to the Lemp Estate.
Originally, Cragwold was reached via Lemp Road, off of Forest Avenue just south of Big Bend Road. Below is what I believe to be the original entrance to the estate; if you look carefully, you can see a stone house that was probably the caretaker’s house.
What has changed since 1911, when Cragwold was built, is the addition of a superhighway we all know well: I-270. Looking at this map, you can see that Lemp Road originally went straight towards Cragwold. First the interstate, and then a subdivision, slowly erased Lemp Road’s original trajectory to the river bluffs. Look at a map of the area here; the mansion in the lower left corner is Cragwold. Lemp Road now makes an angled turn at the old gateway, instead of following a straight course through the gates.
Cragwold is accessible from the aptly named Cragwold Road, but don’t go trying to knock on the front door. The current owners have “no trespassing” signs posted along the road, so to catch a view of the mansion, you must head across the Meramec River to Unger Park, where the mansion comes into splendid view from the flood plains below. You can read more about the mansion here on page two of this pdf. The house is essentially one story, but clearly has a basement on the bluffs side of the house. The house is listed as having 9,015 square feet, five bedrooms and five bathrooms. An observation tower complements the house, providing what must have been stunning views of the valley before the Chrysler Plant was built.
Update: Based on readers’ comments, other Lemp experts and examination of Edwin Lemp’s will by the author, the legend of the burning of his furniture and belongings after his death is almost certainly not true.
The mansion is no longer owned by the Lemp family. Supposedly when Edwin Lemp died, he ordered his butler to burn all of the family heirlooms in an attempt to end the curse that had haunted the family for so long.
Update from the vaults: This photograph shows the height of the bluffs on which the house sits.