by Michael R. Allen
After the Circuit Court upheld the Planning Commission’s vote to block demolition of Cupples 7 in late June, there was little to report on the ailing historic warehouse building. Yesterday St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Tim Bryant provided good news: Montgomery Bank foreclosed on owner Ballpark Lofts, which owed $1.4 million to the bank (along with some $250,000 owed to the city unpaid property taxes). Yesterday the city’s Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority voted unanimously to issue a formal Request for Proposals (RFP) seeking a redevelopment plan for the building.
Historically used by the Graham Paper Company and known as the Graham Paper Company Building, the warehouse was numbered Cupples 7 by a recent redevelopment plan. The warehouse was built in 1907 as one of the eighteen brick and timber slow-burn warehouse buildings constructed between 1894 and 1917 as Cupples Station. Like all of the others save one, Cupples 7 was built to the plans of esteemed architectural firm Eames & Young. The building shared the characteristics of the others: comparable height (all were five to seven stories), mill method wooden structure, red brick walls with red mortar powerfully expressed through corbelling and relief, plain expression of fenestration through window grids and basement connection to freight handling spur.
In 1988, the National Park Service listed the ten remaining Cupples Station buildings in the National Register of Historic Places as the Cupples Warehouse District. A block of four of these buildings were renovated as a Westin Hotel that opened in 2000, and later developer Kevin McGowan’s Ballpark Lofts company renovated additional Cupples buildings. Yet in 2004, the city demolished the warehouse at 1001-9 Spruce Street (1897). The nine remaining buildings thus represent only half of the historic wholesale warehouse complex. Today the Cupples 7 building is a crucial component of the remaining Cupples Station group, whose remarkable buildings were hailed by the Society of Architectural Historians in 1968 as “outstanding elements of our national heritage.”
We await the issuance of the RFP, and will post it here when it is available.