Mobile Cotton Exchange

Mobile established a cotton exchange in 1871, just a year after New York's and New Orleans' were founded, making it the third oldest in the nation. These organizations were founded by cotton brokers and merchants to coordinate the rules and regulations for the sale, purchase and handling of cotton. Savannah followed suit in 1872 and Memphis in 1873. T.K. Irwin was a founder and president. Its first home was on St. Michael Street.

In 1886, a new building was erected on the northwest corner of St. Francis and North Commerce streets. Architect Rudolph Benz designed the building. A massive bale of cotton adorned with an oversized gold crown topped the south front and molded reliefs of a bear and a bull loomed over the entrance.

The first floor was also designed to house the Mobile Chamber of Commerce. In that organization's honor, a large statue of the "Goddess of Commerce" topped the Commerce Street facade. The upper floors held the offices of the Mobile and Ohio Railroad.

The main trading room for the cotton exchange featured an elaborately stenciled and painted ceiling. Medallions bore the heads of bulls and bears, as well as cotton bales. A 12-foot-long panel depicted a view of Liverpool, while smaller murals showed London's Woolwich Docks and the port of Le Havre in France - all ports vital to Mobile's cotton trade.

This building burned down around 1917. By 1923, the vacant lot became home to a gas station. The whole street vanished when Water Street was widened.

The exchange relocated to St. Francis Street and occupied an office on the second floor of the First National Bank Annex facing Bienville Square. The last listing for the organization was in 1942. New Orleans' cotton exchange lasted until 1964, but New York's is still in existence.