the cotton exchange is a collection of eight historic buildings on water and front streets. these buildings once housed a cotton exchange, a flour mill. a printing company, and a seed merchant. today the cotton exchange is a collection of restaurants and shops. for shopping and dining the cotton exchange is worth a visit when in downtown wilmington. for more information see the attached web site.
"In constant occupancy since the pre-Civil War decade, the Sprunt Building was home of the Cape Fear Flour and Pearl Hominy Mill in 1884--the largest of its kind in the South. In 1919-20, Alexander Sprunt & Sons rebuilt the structure to its current Neoclassic revival style to house the thriving cotton export business. They shipped cotton to ports in Europe, England, and America, and the Sprunt Building overlooked all the cotton compresses on the river and was, in actuality, a cotton exchange." From their website
The Cotton Exchange is what you will come across first if coming in from the northwest side going towards the water. There appears to be plenty of parking here but it's for the Exchange only. However, I admit, I parked here then wandered out of the exchange and there was no one in the ticket booth anyways.
Getting close to it I was excited because I saw a cute bookstore and small cafe. There was a little sidewalk sale but I figured I shouldn't start spending all my money quite yet. I had the whole day to make it through.
There are a few main entrances but there are stairs. So, have your climbing shoes on if stairs are tricky for you. Upstairs are little shops but it was confusing for me to figure out how it was all set up. My family wasn't interested in exploring it as we had a big stroller, though and would have had to carry it up the stairs and there didn't seem to be a lot of room to maneuver it among the shop set-ups.
Also, there are a few different restaurants here, too. They had a variety but they looked nice. We had just eaten breakfast so we didn't try any.
With 34 shops and restaurants, the old Cotton Exchange is an excellent place to take a lunch break, buy souvenirs, and just go hang out. These buildings date back nearly a century, and have served as a downtown shopping center since 1975.
The Cotton Exchange is located on the north end of Front Street at the edge of the historic district. Inside, you'll some cheesy shops, an ice cream shop and a nice little courtyard.