Maplewood History: The Astounding Story of Maplewood’s Own – Cupples Products Corporation


I finally got around to having another look at three books by and about the Cupples Products Corporation.  They were given to me by Millie Durban whose husband, Richard, worked for Cupples from 1952 to 1978.

The title of an earlier post of mine is, The Incredible and Phenomenal Cupples Corporation. I’ve added astounding to the title of this post.  The following is a quote from the earliest of the three books mentioned.  “If you could group together in one area all the Cupples designed and Cupples fabricated buildings you would have a city larger, (more square feet of commercial floor area) than Boston, Atlanta or Denver.” That was probably written in 1971 or 1972 when the company was  25 years old.

These books are now in the collection of our library.  If you have a chance to check these out by all means do.  They are beautiful books.  You cannot help but be stunned by all of the buildings, many familiar and most not, that Cupples employees designed, fabricated and installed everything that you see when you look at them!

I am very grateful to Mrs. Durban for the books because without them we would never have known of the astounding accomplishments of this 100 percent Maplewood business.

I am including a link to my earlier post and one to another interesting site.

The orange-colored book is the earliest.  It contains photographs of 90 of the buildings they completed. From the text, it must have been published in 1971 or 1972.  The one with the blue cover has no date of publication that I could find.  it has images of 75 more of the most important buildings sheathed by the Cupples Products Corporation.

The first book opens with this image of the the World Trade Center buildings.  In my mind, this must have been one of their grandest accomplishments yet they had completed it when their company was less than 25 years old!  Keep in mind that everything you see on those two towers, the curtain wall, the glass, the glazing, etc., was done by employees of the Cupples Products Corporation. Wow!

Also, by the time they turned 25, they had already done the John Hancock building, the Standard Oil building and the Sears Tower, three of the tallest buildings in Chicago.

The company completed hundreds of your garden-variety, glass towers.  One project that was anything but ordinary was the Air Force Academy Chapel in Colorado Springs.  It was fabricated across the street from where I have lived for the past 48 years, on Big Bend, just south of Manchester. Here is a link to a former post I did on that one.

In St. Louis, they completed the exteriors of some of our most recognizable buildings downtown.

The third Cupples book titled Perceptions is the most lavish. It also has the most text and gives a detailed account of the processes involved in the manufacture of curtain walls.  Keep in mind that the Cupples Products Corporation was the foremost producer in the world.

At the top is the very first building they completed.

The Wells Fargo Building in San Francisco.

The Cupples engineers and designers worked with hundreds of the world’s leading architects, including St. Louis’ own Gyo Obata, and Phillip Johnson, I.M. Pei, Norman Foster and Mies Van der Rohe.

Here is another look at the Air Force Academy chapel and its setting.  Apparently Cupples also completed several of the other buildings there as well.  This image can be found in the third book, Perceptions.  It also displays no date of publication but is divided into sections by decade beginning with Buildings of the Fifties where the above image is featured.  The book continues decade by decade through the 1980s.

Editing this post was one of the most difficult that I’ve done.  i don’t feel like I’ve been able to do this marvelous company justice.  There are so many images I’ve had to leave out.

Getting ready to close this out, I thumbed through their third book once again and just had to sit it on my chair and take few more pictures with my cell phone.  They’re not very good quality but I hope they’ll give the reader an idea of the vastness of this subject.

And from the book Perceptions, this is a list of all of the buildings featured.

I’ll close with this image of the WWII era, aircraft engine that the Cupples engineers used to test their products.  It sat for many decades in their yard at the northeast corner of Hanley and Manchester.  Highly visible from Hanley, according to reader Larry McDaniel, it was known as the Maplewood Air Force.

Doug Houser       October 7, 2023

I received the following from Jeff Todisman following my initial post.  Thanks, Jeff.





    • You are right once again, Gary. Jeff Todisman sent an interesting find about the airplane that I’m posting at the end of the article. Thank you for the info.

  1. Good story. When I was a kid in the 1970s I always wondered what they made in the factory there along Hanley at Litzsinger. Now we know.

    • That’s true, Todd, we do. There is still a large part of the story that we don’t know, like who the geniuses were behind the meteoric rise of this company. I think we will someday. Stay tuned.

  2. Mr. Houser, Like Cupples our story started in Maplewood and also at Cupples. We met at Cupples and lived in Maplewood for 43 years. Moving only to be near our grandsons. Cupples was a wonderful place to work and make lifelong memories and friends. I worked as secretary to Jim Davis V.P. of Engineering and had first hand experience from the start of the buildings until the end. Loved watching the old plane tests they did on the mock-ups. Mr. Davis is still very much with us and we visit by phone at least once or twice a year. Thank you for all you do to keep Maplewood and it’s history live. We also have these books and highly recommend people checking them out.
    Don and Robbie Wallis

    • Don and Robbie, You are probably the most connected folks that I have made contact with so far. I would love to talk to Jim Davis. I would greatly appreciate it if you would ask him to contact me. I am fascinated by the company and your part in it. Please email me at [email protected]. Thanks so much for your comments.

  3. Thanks very much for the memories. I remember well the plane sitting on the Hanley side of building. I knew about the World Trade Center towers, but didn’t realize all the other famous buildings they had done.

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