The 1908 City Produce Exchange Building is one of the largest warehouse/industrial buildings in Harrisonburg, with over two acres under roof.
The City Produce Exchange (CPE), a product of the poultry trade, was formed by brothers Emanuel and Gabriel Blosser and partner Hershsey H. Weaver. The principals are thought to have acted as their own contractors in the construction of this poultry processing plant in 1908. Harrisonburg’s agriculturally based economy developed in the years leading up to the Civil War and became well established following the extension of the Valley Railroad in 1874. Feed and seed merchants and wholesale grocers built many large brick warehouses that lined the railroad tracks in the Harrisonburg Downtown Historic District.
According to Emanuel Blosser’s daughter, her father claimed the plant was the largest poultry processor east of the Mississippi. In 1943, historian John W. Wayland states that the plant was “one of the largest of its kind in the United States.” A 1927 business directory claimed that Rockingham County was the second largest poultry producing area in the United States with a total value of poultry production in excess of $3 million per year and that the CPE was “the largest fattening and packing plant in the world.” The 1927 directory also noted that the plant could fatten 65,000 birds at one time. Wetsel Seed Company purchased the bulding in 1949 and used it to store orchard seed. According to Robert Wetsel, Emanuel Blosser closed his poultry plant in 1949 due to labor difficulties.
Matchbox and its partners purchased the City Exchange in 2005 and completed renovations just nine months later. The new owners, Andrew Forward and Barry Kelley worked with Virginia’s Department of Historic Resources and Harrisonburg’s Downtown Historical Council to ensure the building was restore in a thoughtful and innovative manner. To that end, a tremendous amount of materials used in the building’s renovation were reclaimed from the original site and refurbished to fit within modern loft apartment aesthetics.
The Flats at City Exchange currently enjoys 100% occupancy and features one of Harrisonburg’s most influential restaurants, Local Chop & Grill House.