Another favorite structure from the past, Metropolitan Hall (aka. The Market House), is back in Raleigh news. In a ceremony this morning at Fire Station 1 on Davie Street, the building’s former bell was returned to City custody by NC State. According to the City, no one is quite sure how State came to be in possession of the historic bell, but they have had it for over 60 years, and decided it was time for it to go back to its rightful owner.
Built in 1870, Metropolitan Hall stood on the corner of Fayetteville Street and Exchange Plaza (the walkway next to the Mint). The long brick building was built to replace the Market House of 1840 that was destroyed in a fire. Metropolitan Hall was a multi-purpose building with a city market on the first floor, and City Hall and the city’s first auditorium on the upper floors. It was the center of the Raleigh economy in its heyday, with vendors selling everything from livestock and vegetables to homemade goods.
The basement held the fire department and the jail, which was appropriate since the area used to be the most dangerous strip in town. Exchange Plaza went by the nickname “Grog Alley” since it was the area where most of the drunken fights, riots, and gambling went on in town due to the heavy population of saloons on the strip.
After the turn of the century, the structure became rundown, so a new city municipal building (1911) and city market (1914) were built elsewhere. Metropolitan Hall was torn down in 1920.
Image courtesy of the Raleigh City Museum