Visitors Guide to the
Samuel Cupples House
3673 West Pine Blvd.
St. Louis University Campus
St. Louis, MO

Street Parking or Paid Lot Parking Accessible Historical Displays Accessible Missouri Historical Site Accessible Art Exhibits Accessible Restrooms

The Samuel Cupples House is a historic 42-room, castle-like mansion located on the campus of Saint Louis University. The building is a rare example of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture in Saint Louis and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It has been restored to its original splendor with many of its opulent original furnishings. The McNamee Gallery is located on the lower level and houses educational and art exhibits. Portions of the University's permanent collection of fine art are displayed throughout the house.

Samuel Cupples was a St. Louis businessman who opened up a woodenware business selling brooms and other household goods in 1851 along the riverfront where the Gateway Arch stands today. The demand for woodenware in the growing city made him very wealthy. Cupples gained a partner, Robert Brookings, and together they developed the Cupples Station complex in 1891. This group of 23 seven-story buildings covering 30 acres, served as a giant freight depot. Most of the city’s heavy wholesale trade, amounting to more than $200 million annually at the turn of the century, was handled there.

In 1888 Cupples commissioned prominent architect Thomas Annan to design a mansion worthy of his success in business. The result was an impressive castle-like mansion with turrets and gargoyles with large airy wood paneled rooms and elaborately ornate furniture and décor. Cupples died in 1913 and his heirs sold the house to the Railroad Telegraphers Union in 1919 for use as the organization's office headquarters. It had been Cupple's fervent wish that Saint Louis University not get the building, so irked was he when the University built DuBourg Hall on Grand Avenue spoiling his view to the east. But in 1946, the Telegraphers Union sold the property to the University. Renamed Chouteau House after the University's first student, the house served as a student union and faculty office building. Restoration of the house began in the early 1970s and the restoration work continues today. In 1970 the name was changed back to Cupples House and efforts were undertaken to restore the building.

The exterior of the building is in the Richardson Romanesque style with fortress-like towers and limestone gargoyles. The forms of the Romanesque Revival actually derive from the 11th and 12-century architecture of France and Spain. The style enjoyed a resurgence in the 1880s due to the work of architect H. H. Richardson. Romanesque Revival was rarely the choice for home because of the financial cost of the masonry construction. The most prominent Romanesque Revival building remaining in St. Louis is Union Station. The Cupples House is constructed of purple Colorado sandstone and pink Missouri granite from the Elephant Rocks quarries in southern Missouri. Stone carvers brought from England to do the job did the elaborate stone carvings on the building. The building cost $500,000 when it was constructed in 1890 (approximately $15 million in 21st century dollars) and about the same $500,000 to restore it in the 1970's.

The house has 42 rooms and 22 fireplaces and is filled with imported English oak woodwork. The Grand Hall, modeled after the galleries in English country houses, runs the full expanse of the main floor. Its furnishings include a 13th century French Gothic bishop's throne and a rare Steinway duo musical player piano originally used in the house. Annan designed the hand-carved oak desk in the library. The commode in the Music Room is an exact copy of a Louis XV commode designed by Riesner for the bedroom of Louis XVI at Versailles. Many rooms throughout the house are furnished with period pieces (photo left.) The Flemish Room is decorated with an 18th century Dutch desk cylinder, an elaborately carved 17th century Flemish breakfront of walnut with inserts of green marble from Port Sory in eastern Scotland, a hand-carved walnut 19th century English library table and paintings by Flemish artist Pieter Cocke Van Aelst and a 17th century Dutch artist. Leaded glass windows (photo left) fill the house with light. Louis Comfort Tiffany windows are on each floor. One of the most intriguing windows is the Zodiac Window on the Minstrel's Balcony overlooking the Main Hall. It is from a design by the English Pre-Rafaelite artist Burne Jones with a poem by St. Louis poet Eugene Field.

The University's has one of the largest collections of glass art in the Midwest and many of its pieces (photo left) are on display in the Cupples House.
The Cupples House's Turshin Glass Collection of American and European art glass - including Pairpoint, Steuben, Tiffany, Webb, Lalique and Venetian glass - chronicles the history of glass from 1800 to 1950. Also in the house are Northern and Italian Renaissance paintings, many of which were brought to St. Louis from Belgium by Father Peter DeSmet, S.J., an early Jesuit missionary in the St. Louis area. Portraits of Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) and his family are also on display. The lower level, which now houses the McNamee Gallery, used to be Samuel Cupples' bowling alley.
The Cupples House is one of three art museums on the campus of St. Louis University. The Cupples House, the St. University Museum of Art, and the Museum of Contemporary Religious Art are within blocks of each other and can be easily viewed in a morning or afternoon

Visiting the Samuel Cupples House
     Visiting Hours
          Tuesday - Saturday: 11 am - 4 pm
          Closed in January and on national and Catholic holidays.
          Tours are held on Monday and Tuesday. Advance reservations required for groups of 15 or more

Admission. There is no admission for SLU student and faculty or guests under 18 years of age.

Location: The Samuel Cupples House is located on the campus of St. Louis University. It is located in the Grand Center neighborhood of St. Louis, which is centered on Grand Avenue just north of the Grand exit of I-64/US-40. Only metered street parking and paid lots are available.

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Samuel Cupples House - Official site of the Samuel Cupples House.
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