Thursday, November 24, 2011

Loss of Cupples 7 Would Further Deplete a Sparse Section of Downtown St. Louis

South of Market Parking & Open Space
Yesterday St. Louis University pulled its proposed demolition of the Pevely Dairy from this months Preservation Board meeting, but the proposed demolition of Cupples Warehouse #7 is still on the final agenda for next Monday the 28th.

The graphic above shows starkly how Downtown south of Market still bears the scars of devastation from Urban Renewal planning of the middle part of the last century. Compounded with the fortress like structures dating from the 1960's through 1990's including the Ballpark Hilton, Bank Of America, the US Federal Courthouse and others, result in an urban landscape that is bleak at best (magenta is parking lots and garages and yellow is vacant land, parks & plazas).

The fact that this portion of Downtown is so fragile is reason enough that we cannot lose another major historic structure to demolition. For the area to continue toward a critical mass of life and activity from what has been gained over the last decade through renovation of the Cupples warehouses along Spruce, Building 7 must be retained, stabilized, and eventually re-built from the inside.

Cupples Warehouse District 1932
Beyond the potential to reinvigorate the area, demolition of Cupples Building #7 would push the total loss of the Cupples Warehouses to over half the original content (magenta = 1960's demolition, yellow = 2001 demolition, cyan = warehouse #7). This would not trigger a de-listing from the National Register of the remaining buildings, but from an architectural standpoint reduces the overall significance and cohesion of the district (all designed by Eames & Young) that made this collection of buildings unmatchable in St. Louis and arguably the entire midwest.

Cupples Elevations 1907
Elevations of the original district along the south side of Spruce. The first pair of buildings tied together by a multistory connector over an alley and the next long building tied by two bridges over what are now the Metrolink tracks comprised a massive complex within the overall district. The single elevation below (longer than any two of the other buildings combined) was along 8th south of Spruce. This complex was lost to demolition for the construction of Busch Stadium which was completed in 1966.

The fourth building in the row is Warehouse #9 which is scheduled for renovation by the Koman Group for offices and retail to be completed in 2012. The fifth building was demolished for highway ramps to and from Highway 40/64. The sixth is Warehouse #8 for which renovation into the Ballpark Lofts by Kevin McGowan's Blue Urban partnership was completed in 2008. The last in the row is Warehouse #7. If it is demolished, there would only be two building's left of the original seven along the south side of Spruce.

Cupples west from 8th
Looking west along the south side of Spruce from 8th Street (photo from the 1928 publication Missouri's Contribution to American Architecture). The building in the foreground, had it survived, would be across from the Westin Hotel.

Cupples 10th Street
A view looking south along 10th Street from just south of Clark Street (photo from Geo St. Louis). The center building in this photo was allowed to be demolished due to what were claimed to be structural problems as part of an ill-fated plan to turn the entire block into a four building office complex linked by a giant curved glass atrium. This would have involved new buildings at 10th & Spruce and 11th & Clark.

Cupples Plan & Reality
A rendering of the four building scheme inset into the reality of what we ended up with. Several years after that deal fell through, Conrad Properties renovated the historic building at 1000 Clark Street into office space a ground floor restaurant, but the site of the demolished building remains a surface parking lot. HRI renovated the warehouse at 11th & Spruce across from #7 into apartments completed in 2006.

10th & Spruce Parking Lot
The northwest corner of 10th & Spruce today. We cannot allow this to happen to Warehouse #7! Please attend the Preservation Board meeting next Monday, November 28th a 4:00 pm at 1015 Locust Street, suite 1200 and tell the Preservation Board to say NO to demolition. If you cannot attend, please email your comments to the board's administrative assistant at


Anonymous said...

Planning to attend. thanks for the informative post.

Anonymous said...

What's wrong with that corner. The parking is probably a welcome need, and it looks nice enough. Usually I agree with the need to retain our old structures, but this doesn't seem to be worth fighting over.