Saint Louis University

History of Cupples House

The historic Cupples House at Saint Louis University.

The historic Samuel Cupples house was commissioned by St. Louis entrepreneur Samuel Cupples in the late 1880s. The home is a rare example of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture in St. Louis. Located at 3673 West Pine, the lot was the highest ground in thecity of St. Louis at the time. (Learn more about the design and architecture of Cupples House .) Cupples House features 42 rooms and 22 fireplaces; leaded glass windows and intricately carved woodwork are found throughout. 

Cupples lived in the house until his death in 1912. Saint Louis University purchased the home in 1946 to use as classrooms and as a student union. 

In 1973, Maurice McNamee, S.J., took on the task of restoring the house to its original appearance. A century of coal dust and city grime were washed away, revealing the rich colors of the stone exterior. Years of paint were removed, uncovering original wall papers. Saint Louis University benefactors from around the nation donated period furnishings. Cupples House was placed on the National Historic Register in 1976. 

History of the Samuel Cupples House


Building permit filed with the City of St. Louis for a two-story residence at 3673 West Pine. Estimated cost: $150,000. Architect: Thomas B. Annan.


Construction began on the house and stables. The stables were located directly south of the house between West Pine and Laclede Avenues. The stables were built to include a blacksmith shop, horse stalls, servants' quarters, and a kitchen. A tunnel connected the house from the basement to the stables.

Artisans were brought over from Scotland to carve the decorative stonework on the main house.


The house was completed and was now three stories and much over budget. The original design included a flat porch area at the back elevation and a narrow porch with a roof on the back northeast elevation.

St. Louis Business Directory lists 3673 as Mr. Cupples' official address.


Building permit filed with the City of St. Louis by the Jesuits to build DuBourg Hall at Grand and Lindell. It was rumored that Mr. Cupples was perturbed with the Jesuits because this large building cut off his eastern view.


Building permit filed with the City of St. Louis to enclose the back porches. The flat porch became a round conservatory and playroom with a glass skylight. The narrow porch was closed in and became the servants' dining room. The architect of record was Theodore Link, designer of Union Station.


Building permit filed to erect a greenhouse west of the main house.


The house was sold to the Brotherhood of Railroad Telegraphers for their corporate headquarters. Stables demolished.


Saint Louis University purchases the house to be used for classrooms and a student union.


The structure was to be demolished to make way for a new building. Fr. Maurice McNamee, S.J., petitioned the University President, Fr. Reinert, S.J., to give him a few years to restore the building. With the help of University students, Fr. McNamee began the interior restorations.


The house opened to the public for the first time, empty of furniture.


Samuel Cupples House was designated a historic building on the National Register of Historic Places.

Late 1970s

The exterior of the house was cleaned to remove 90 years of soot. Throughout St. Louis, homes and commercial buildings were covered with industrial soot from the coal burning factories.


The lower level was redesigned to become an art gallery and art storage area.


Cupples House was cited by the National Victorian Society as an outstanding example of historic preservation and restoration.


The Conservatory was remodeled and renamed the Harris Education Center that is fully handicapped accessible and features touch tour computer visuals for the sight impaired and closed-captioned videos for the hearing impaired.

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