For the first time in a decade, I’m posting an entry outside of my normal 7:00 AM in the morning post. I think the collapse of the western malt kiln at the Lemp Brewery, whose first three stories were constructed in the early 1870s, and whose top three to four stories were constructed in 1887 and collapsed on Sunday morning, warrants a special post.
Yes, I’ve been inside the building several years ago, on the first floor, and also on the second floor with the owner, Shashi Palamand. I have gotten to know Shashi very well, and I can personally attest that he cares very deeply about the history of the Lemp Brewery. We had many long conversations about how he much he cares about working to be the best steward for the property, and the money he’s invested in the buildings, which are extremely expensive to maintain. I even was allowed to inspect the receipts and blueprints for the repairs he made to the malt kilns several years ago. Jason Gray and I were also given complete and total free rein in 2017 to explore and photograph anywhere we wanted on the Lemp property, unsupervised over the course of an entire year (including the cave!). Shashi at no point acted like he was someone trying to hide serious and rampant building neglect.
I just learned from a Post-Dispatch article that the Building Commissioner, Frank Oswald, and his department had condemned the building in 2013. Mr. Oswald is also someone with whom I’ve often corresponded with while working to improve my neighborhood, and is also someone I respect greatly. So we have a situation where two people I respect greatly have come into a bit of a disagreement, which I hope can be worked out.
It’s also important to realize that each of the three vertical “cells” of the malt kiln are, in my opinion from my research, capable of standing independently, so I believe that the collapse of the western one, which was exposed to the brunt of the weather over the last 130-150 years, will not affect the condition of the other two if proper stabilization occurs.
I don’t know what the future holds, but I hope that both parties, the City and the Lemp Brewery can come to an agreement that will save the remainder of the malt kiln, and possibly rebuild the portion that collapsed.