ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - The Chatillon-DeMenil Mansion will host its annual "A Death in the Family: Death & Mourning in the 19th Century" event this weekend.
Each year the event showcases the ritual of 19th century mourning, including Victorian embalming and funeral practices, mourning clothing and customs, hair-work aft, and even gravestone rubbing.
Fedora Amis, author of Jack the Ripper in St. Louis, will be autographing copies of her book, which will beavailable for purchase in the DeMenil gift shop. The book is based on the fact that one of Jack the Ripper suspects, Francis J. Tumblety, died in St. Louis in 1903. Amis tells a fictional tale of a young Victorian-era woman who becomes entwined with Tumblety. Amis is the recipient of Mayhaven's Award for Fiction.
The historic home was built in two sections: the first by Henri Chatillon in 1850, and the second by Dr. Nicolas N. DeMenil in 1863. DeMenil's son, Alexander, lived in the house until he died in 1928. In the early 1960s it was scheduled to be torn down until the Landmarks Association bought the property from the State of Missouri Highway Commission.
Like other notorious properties in the St. Louis area, the Chatillion-DeMenil Mansion has its share of ghost sightings. According to the home's website, one person says her 3-year-old daughter accompanies her to Craft Night at the mansion and asked the names of ladies who live there. When the mother told her daughter nobody lives there anymore her daughter said, "No, mom, the two sisters who live there. You are not the one they are looking for, so that's why they don't want to talk to you."
Another visitor claims to have described a man in formal clothes and costume, who she had seen at the top of the staircase heading toward the attic. She assumed he was a worker in a period costume, but when she turned around, he had disappeared. Nobody else in the home had seen the man.
The event will take place Saturday, Oct. 26 from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. at Chatillon-DeMenil Mansion, 3352 DeMenil Place, St. Louis, Mo. 63118. Admission is $12 for adults, $6 for children under 12. Children under the age of six are free. Members of the Chatillon-DeMenil House Foundation will pay half price. Tarot card readings will be an additional $10.
Proceeds from the event go toward care and restoration of the mansion.