Rock Alva, the Griesedieck Estate

Meramec Valley Estates and Auditorium Building, Chicago 008

I have become fascinated with the Griesedieck family, the “lost” brewing family of St. Louis. Everyone’s heard of the Busches and Lemps, but for much of the Twentieth Century, the three branches of the Griesedieck family fought competitively for dominance in the St. Louis and national beer market, Falstaff being the most famous (an heir brews Griesedieck again, and it is very goodbeer). My family and I finally made it out to the Griesedieck estate, which was called Rock Alva, probably a play off the family member, Alvin, who lived atthe property. The stone tower from 1910, which seems to have functioned as the carriage house/garage, dominates the site.

Meramec Valley Estates and Auditorium Building, Chicago 009

But for the life of me, I cannot figure out where the main house was. Is it the now adulterated building shown above, which appears to have originally been in the Shingle Style?

Meramec Valley Estates and Auditorium Building, Chicago 010

One of the final Griesedieck heirs, Father Ed, donated the land to the Paracletes, who counseled troubled Roman Catholic priests. Apparently they violated their promise and sold the land to a McMansion developer who destroyed one of the last pristine estates in St. Louis County. The view is incredible, though blocked by balloon frame behemoths.

Meramec Valley Estates and Auditorium Building, Chicago 011

Did you or your family ever visit Rock Alva back in the day? What do you remember? Do you have pictures? I would love to talk to you. Below are some more pictures of the stunning tower. The land has now been donated to the Lindbergh School District, because the previous owner, one of the founding fathers of Sunset Hills, could not get a zoning variance to open the property as a library. Schools are not beholden to the same constraints. He won in the end.

Meramec Valley Estates and Auditorium Building, Chicago 012 Meramec Valley Estates and Auditorium Building, Chicago 013 Meramec Valley Estates and Auditorium Building, Chicago 014

9 Comments Add yours

  1. samizdat says:

    Well, at least we know where the hayloft was. One can still see the large opening, now truncated by a tiny window and a facsimile of a barn door, on the south (?) side of the structure, its winch arm still visible above the stone original stone doorway. The two small windows below likely indicate where at least two of the horse stalls were.

    While I am glad to see that the majority of original contributing structures still exist, it also makes me a little sad to see them subjected to alterations which are not only aesthetically unpleasant, but also indicate a cheap purse was used during the budgeting process. Cheap people, whaddya gonna do, huh?

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Good eye!

  2. Jeff Marvin says:


    My grandfathers grandfather was friends with Joe Griesedieck and Billy Lemp. He does have a pic in his kitchen of his grandfathers car in front of the residence.

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Oh wow, I would love to see that!

  3. Chris,
    I grew up on Belfast Dr, which was just down from West Watson on Rock Alva Rd.I was born in 1965, and remained in the family home till 1993. As kids we had never been allowed to venture up the long hill to Paraclete Fathers, ( we did on a rare occasion anyway. That was a long hill to push our bicycles up back then). I remember the line of tall Pine Trees at the end of Rock Alva leading straight to an old Farm House that we visited from time to time to see the animals. We always walked down our road to watch the Horses and the Sulky races. I think the one thing that I remember most is the stone bridge a little ways down in the woods toward the top of the hill on the left side. We would also make a trip every week to buy fresh eggs from the Moor’s.

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Wow, what cool memories! Thanks for sharing!

      1. Carole Howell says:

        Griesedieck family had a summer house on Brewster Road Allenton /Eureka St. Louis County. As a kid I remember part of the foundation and a huge cistern . The cistern was about 10 feet across with a large opening. I am 73 so the time I am remembering would most likely be around the late sixties. Is there any pictures or history of this summer home. In 1968 my husband and I brought our first home in Hollow Mo. In the garage there were about 15 cardboard cases of Griesedieck beer bottles.

        1. cnaffziger says:

          Interesting! I’ll have to check that out at some point.

    2. jaycee says:

      I bike Rock Alva road from Minnie Haha. Can you give me the history of why there are no homes and the area is basically abandoned?

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