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What is the Cotton Exchange?

Ben Steelman

This block of historic commercial buildings, centered at 321 N. Front St., Wilmington [Map this], once housed the offices of Alexander Sprunt & Sons, at one time the single largest cotton brokerage in the country. The Sprunt family’s Champion Compress & Warehouse Co. was located nearby. Before the Sprunts renovated the Sprunt Building in 1919-1920, it housed one of the largest flour mills in the South.

Other businesses in the complex over the years included a Chinese laundry, a barber shop that served employees of the nearby Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, a wholesale grocery and, during the 1930s, the local facilities for Sears, Roebuck.

Restoration on the property began in 1974. Today, The Cotton Exchange is a complex of more than two dozen specialty shops, art studios and restaurants. The Wilmington Walk of Fame is located in its parking lot facing Water Street.

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