John Lemp, known as the Beer King of Boise, arrived in the US in the mid 1800s, knowing no English, owning nothing. Lemp learned most of his Enlish while clerking at a store in Kentucky, eventually moving his way to Colorado. In 1865, however, he, too, got gold fever and made the move to Idaho. As legend goes, he bought his brewery on the corners of 6th and Main for a cup of gold dust.
Across the street from his brewery was the Turnervein building, though not erected and named until 1906 when a group of German gymnasts had finally gathered enough men from their homeland to form a gentlmans club of their own in the building. Lemp, being from Germany himself, supplied the Turners with his special Holiday Lager free of charge every season.
Lemp became Boise’s first German-born Mayor, living in the mayoral manision (now torn down) on Grove Street with their 13 children. Still known as the Lemp Block, Main Street between 8th and 9th streets were the locations of Lemp’s Dry Goods, as well as the Hotel he ran. Lemp was also well known for donating money and volunteering his time to help build warehouses, banks, saloons, canals, a volunteer fire department, and an entire block of the North End during it’s prime development stage.The brewing company, later the statesman building, now containing such businesses as the Reef and Tom Graineys, have both been rumored to have eerie things happen when the lights go out; is Lemp still watching over his cup of gold brewery?Even across the street, the Turners are still celebrating with their Holiday Lager. Most likely with the girl who died in the elevator shaft in the 1920s….