Cherokee Cave

Cherokee Cave (HM2GC6)

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N 38° 35.522', W 90° 12.972'

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Cherokee-Lemp Historic District

The caves that riddle the underground of the Soulard and Benton Park neighborhoods served as natural refrigerators for the local breweries. Adam Lemp was aging his German style beer in the cave system beneath your feet even before the California gold rush of 1849. During the the American Civil War, Lemp began moving his entire brewery to this site to utilize these caves.

These caverns connected the Lemp Mansion, at 3322 DeMenil Place, with the cellars underneath the brewery. During the late 19th century, the Lemp family built a smaller theater in a cavern room and a pool, similar to a Roman bath, in another part of the caves.

Prohibition shut down the brewery and the caves. Entrepreneur Lee Hess bought the abandoned cave in 1945 and began developing it as a tourist attraction. He dug a new entrance to the cave and built a museum over it, at the corner of Cherokee and Broadway.

In 1950, Lee Hess opened his "Cherokee Caves" and museum exhibiting both natural man-made wonders. A room with spaghetti-like stalactites hanging from the ceiling, an underground creek, and the skeletons of prehistoric animals discovered in the cave fascinated visitors. In his museum, Hess installed the interior of the thousand year-old "Damascus Palace and Ancient Tile Court," which had been exhibited at the 1904 World's Fair.


Cave and Museum became a favorite haunt of South St. Louis school children. Hess, who lived in the DeMenil Mansion was threatened with the headache ball. Though Cherokee Cave is only a memory, dedicated volunteers saved and restored the DeMenil Mansion as a museum.
HM NumberHM2GC6
Year Placed2007
Placed ByNiNi Harris
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Tuesday, April 30th, 2019 at 5:02pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)15S E 742453 N 4275181
Decimal Degrees38.59203333, -90.21620000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 38° 35.522', W 90° 12.972'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds38° 35' 31.32" N, 90° 12' 58.32" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling East
Closest Postal AddressAt or near , ,
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