Hopeful News for Cupples 7: Bank Foreclosed, City Issuing RFP

by Michael R. Allen

The Graham Paper Company Building (now known as Cupples Station Building 7) shown in a photograph in the Station Masters files in the collection of the St. Louis Building Arts Foundation.

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.

An aerial view of Cupples Station Building 7 from Bing, dated 2010.

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.

Cupples Station maps from the National Register nomination, marked to show location of Cupples 7 (red X). The map at left shows Cupples Station in 1932, while the right shows the area in 1984.

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.

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  • GMichaud

    With the wide open spaces of the rail yards only feet away it is hard to believe the highway planners had to come up with such devastating highway entrances and exits in the area around Cupples. Thanks for the site plan comparisons, they are so useful.
    The timing is still probably not great for an RFP, but it is better than the alternative. The building clearly needs a lot of work at this point.
    The real question becomes what is the potential for the building?
    That is an interesting question in its own right, and with Ballpark Village so close, should there be a connection? It is one of the many questions to be answered.
    Maybe the city should make DeWitt include Ballpark Village for their support. It is hard to say, but no doubt the relationship of all of these projects should be a major concern to the city.

  • Imran

    can the bank be pushed to stabilize the roof to prevent further damage from the elements?