It’s funny. I found myself at an indoor pool party with Eva this past weekend. I remarked to one of the other fathers, a commercial cabinet maker, something to the extent of “Wow! The humidity in this place is just KILLING this building.” And the condensation nearly dripping from the now rusting steel rafters made me think then of some photos I had of another pool. A pool installed in one of the basements, of one of the houses I worked on for the big builder. Those photos were close to making the cut until our friend Paul Hamtil emailed this. Enjoy! ~jb
AKA: In the Underground or . . . Stalagmites and Swimming Pools
Location: 50 Ft. under the former Lemp Brewery just around the corner from Anheuser-Busch (St. Louis, Missouri)
In This Photo:
Picture from inside the natural cave, famously known as Lemp Cave. In the foreground, the remains of the Lemp family swimming pool. Also pictured: An unnamed renegade cave explorer just inside one of the masonry walls used to partition the cave into segments.
Unbeknownst to many, just under the surface of the city of St. Louis lies a network of natural limestone caves. Although around 50 were identified and accessible at some point, most entrances have either been lost to or destroyed by development. Attracted by the sustained climate of the caves, St. Louis became home to many German lager beer brewers who used ice from the Mississippi River to cool the caves further and store their product.
The 29-building Lemp Brewery complex still exists today. Its splendid Gothic architecture exudes as much mystery and history as the caves below. As well as developing portions of the cave for storage facilities, the Lemp family entertained here. A theatre and swimming pool were installed around 1890. The brewery had electricity in 1888 (The City of St. Louis in 1904), so lighting and power were installed underground as well.
Historical intrigue is the primary attraction of the Lemp Brewery. Though, the lesson learned from utilizing underground storage is not insignificant. Nearby, residential homes and commercial businesses are built sub-surface — realizing significant energy benefits. With a steady temperature between 54-57 degrees in most caves, they require only a small amount of heating and cooling to provide a good climate for living or storage.
Check out the links below for more information on the Lemp Brewery as well as a very interesting cave home.
* Continue south another 20 minutes to Festus, MO to find a really interesting home built in a cave — no furnace or air conditioning.
* Riverfront Times article on Lemp Cave (Best Cave 2000).
Thanks again to Paul. On twitter @HamtilConst. Your comments are always welcome. ~jb