San Francisco Points of Interest

Merchants Exchange Building
28 November 2019
Merchants Exchange Building
465 California Street
Built 1903
Rebuilt 1906

This fifteen-story skyscraper, designed by Daniel Burnham and Willis Polk, has a steel-frame skeleton sheathed in Tennessee granite and brick. When built, it was one of the tallest buildings in San Francisco.

It was one of the few downtown buildings to survive the 1906 Earthquake and Fire. Reconstruction of the heavily damaged building was managed by Polk and Julia Morgan.

Morgan designed the new skylit lobby and great hall. Maritime artist William Coulter painted five nautical murals in the hall. In 1907, Morgan moved her office to the thirteenth floor of the building. She kept it here for the rest of her career.

This is the third Merchants Exchange Building in San Francisco. Ship spotters at the Point Lobos Marine Exchange Lookout Station would telegraph the identity of incoming ships to a belvedere on the roof of the exchange building for relay to merchants in the great hall on the ground floor.

Some older sources use a possessive apostrophe in the word Merchants, but the Merchants Exchange website does not.

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