It is a three-story masonry structure, built out of brownstone in the Italian Renaissance style. The main facade is eight bays wide, with the main entrance occupying two bays at the center. Windows on the ground floor are tall, and set in openings flanked by paneled pilasters and topped by pedimented segmental arches. Second-floor windows are smaller, set beneath gabled pediments, and third floor windows are smaller still, with simpler surrounds. The building is crowned by a modillioned cornice. The structure was constructed as a commercial investment by the builder, developer and merchant Richard F. Carman in 1851-53. It was the headquarters of the Hanover Bank. In 1870, the New York Cotton Exchange was founded here, the second such exchange in the world and the first exchange in the United States to deal in commodity futures. The building served as the headquarters of W.R. Grace and Company from 1885 until 1913, when it was purchased by the India House, a private club for gentlemen involved in foreign commerce. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1977.
THE COTTON EXCHANGE
The NYCE was founded in 1870 by a group of one hundred cotton brokers and merchants, and is the oldest commodities exchange in the city. In the spring and summer of 1870, a group of cotton merchants and brokers doing business in New York began planning an improvement on their “loose and informal association of persons active in the cotton trade,” spending weeks preparing to create an association that was governed by rules and “equally fair to all” in its cotton dealings. In the middle of August 1870, the forming organization voted for officers and managers, and the Exchange was organized officially on September 7, 1870. Founding president was Stephen D. Harrison. The Exchange earned a charter from the State of New York and its legislature on April 8, 1871. It was first located at 1 Hanover Square (later known as India House) in New York City.