In the Footsteps of Lillian Handlan Lemp

Lillian Handlan Lemp, c. 1905, Missouri History Museum, N38656

Many readers are no doubt familiar with Lillian Handlan, who would marry William Lemp, Jr., the heir to the Lemp Brewery. Later, their acrimonious divorce would make headlines around the country. But she also lived in many places around St. Louis, and I’ve identified several places she called home. There may be more, but for the time being, see some of the places and neighborhoods Lillian lived.

Lillian grew up in a mansion with her parents Alexander and Marie Alexandrine DePrez Handlan at 4930 Lindell Boulevard across the street from what is now the Chase Park Plaza. The site is now the Kindred Hospital, and despite our best efforts to find them, no photographs are known to exist that show the house.

Adam Lemp Residence, 13th and Cherokee, N04071, Missouri History Museum

When Lillian married William, known as Billy, at her parents’ house, she then moved into the old Adam Lemp villa on 13th Street, just north of the Lemp Brewery. Adam Lemp’s third wife Louise had died by then, and William Lemp Sr. had snatched up the property from the intestate estate of his stepmother and her heirs. It is the house on the left, and was built around 1860 at a time when the area was far out in the country. The house on the right was owned by the Hoppes, who were related to the family through the Feickerts, the parents of William Sr.’s wife, Julia. This is the house where much of Lillian’s and Billy’s marital problems occurred, not the more famous Lemp Mansion that still stands across the street.

Lillian continued to live in the Adam Lemp villa during the couple’s separation, until Billy came up with an insidious plan to evict her. While president of his family’s business, he was technically renting the house from the Lemp Brewery, so he simply stopped paying the rent to his own company. Thus the Lemp Brewery evicted Lillian from the house–Billy of course was living elsewhere already so suffered no consequence of evicting himself from the property.

Lillian moved in with her parents after the divorce, and she next surfaces in public records when sadly she reported the death of her son, William Lemp III, who collapsed on the sidewalk in downtown Clayton in 1943. Lillian was living in a modest middle class house at 2918 N. Newstead, seen above, in what is now considered the Greater Ville neighborhood.

Finally, Lillian died March 29, 1960, in a world that had changed remarkably in the almost forty years since the death of her ex-husband. (For context the Beatles were already playing together and were months away from leaving for their stint playing clubs in Hamburg.) The address listed on her death certificate as her final place of residence was 502 Lake Avenue, north of Forest Park and nestled among the private streets of St. Louis’ elite. You can see a photo of the house below in 1958, just a few years before her death. With the permission of Edwin Lemp, she was interred in the Lemp Mausoleum next to her son.

Residences at 502 Lake Avenue, Just North of Westminster Place, Photograph by Oreon E. and R.G. Scott, c. 1958, Missouri History Museum, N38895

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