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Augusta Cotton Exchange Building

Augusta Cotton Exchange Photo 1

Augusta Cotton Exchange c. 1910
Historic Augusta, Inc

Designed by Enoch William Brown, the Augusta Cotton Exchange Building was constructed in the mid-1880s at the height of both the production and trade of cotton in Augusta. The ornate cast-iron entrance elements underneath the projecting round corner turret complement the vigorous brick and stone details of this significant High Victorian building.  The local foundry of Charles F. Lombard cast the iron columns for the entrance in 1886. Both Charles and his brother George R. Lombard had foundries and were well known and respected for the manufacture of ornamental iron.

The building housed offices for the brokers as well as the trading floor, where buyers and sellers closely watched the day-to-day prices of cotton and other commodities.  Women were not allowed in the Exchange Building, and it quickly became the “Man’s get-away,” the site of after-hours cockfights and Saturday football gatherings.

Located on the banks of the Savannah River, Augusta has long been associated with the cotton industry. At its height, Augusta was the second largest inland cotton market in the world. During that time, a group of prominent merchants organized the Augusta Cotton Exchange, and by 1878, its facilities received and processed 200,000 bales of cotton. In 1885, the city had eight cotton manufacturers. The most rapid growth in Augusta’s cotton industry occurred in the 1880s, with a 580% increase in production.  The cotton trade continued to flourish during the first half of the 20th century. Eventually Augusta’s economic dependence on cotton began to decline due to the infestation of the boll weevil, and by 1964 the city no longer operated an exchange.

Augusta Cotton Exchange Photo 2

Augusta Cotton Exchange Today
Rebecca Rogers
Augusta Canal National Monument Heritage Area

In 1988, Mr. Bill Moore of Aiken, South Carolina, noticed the decaying deserted building, which he purchased and restored.  He had the third floor and original roofline replaced, scraped the paint off of the interior heart pine wood, and repaired the windows. The most important artifact still remaining from the exchange is the 45 foot blackboard, which still has chalk figures written on it dating back to the early 1900s.

Previously used by the Augusta Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau as a Welcome Center, the Augusta Cotton Exchange now serves as a branch of Georgia Bank and Trust of Augusta.

Plan your visit

The Augusta Cotton Exchange Building is located at 32 8th St. (at the corner of 8th and Reynolds Sts.) within the Augusta Downtown Historic District.  It is open to the public from 9:00am to 4:00pm., Monday-Friday.  An exhibit and the blackboard are located in the main lobby. Call ahead for tours to 706-432-3332. Free

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