Out of the Attic: The center of Alexandria’s wholesale district


In 1871, Alexandrias Corn and Produce Exchange, a grain and produce market, arranged to have a new building erected at the southwest corner of King and Union streets. The site was previously occupied by the former customs house that was used as a storehouse by the Union army during the Civil War. This old structure was demolished in June 1871, and construction on the new building started soon after.
The new Italianate-style structure was designed by Alexandria architect Benjamin F. Price, who later designed the replacement steeple when City Hall was rebuilt after a fire. He would also later design the Alexandria Armory, among other local buildings. Though Prices new building was called the new Corn Exchange, the name was officially changed to the Commercial Exchange in January 1872, just weeks before the new facility officially opened on February 1 with a banquet, toasts and speeches.
The Exchange occupied the second story, which was 25 feet high and had tall windows and an arched ceiling. Noble Lindseys whole grocery occupied the first floor and remained in business long after the Exchange closed. At the time this photo was taken around 1907, the business was still expanding and by 1922, the Lindsey-Nicholson Corporation as it was then known had more than 20 employees. The business was described in a local paper as being the center of the wholesale district with a complete line of stable and fancy groceries, notions, flour, feedstuff as well as tire and tubes.
The former Corn Exchange building would later be occupied by the Virginia Public Service Company and then used by the federal government. For more than 30 years, it has been the site of multiple restaurants.