Seen & Heard: Coffee in a historic landmark

I am completely confused by this so maybe someone can straighten me out: there’s a new coffee shop at 6 Hanover Street, what I thought was the City Bank-Farmers Trust Building — a city landmark aka 20 Exchange Place. It’s called Conwell Coffee Hall, but it says it is in the “historic Life and Trust Bank” and is named for the bank’s CEO, J.G. Conwell. Because I was curious, I checked the landmarks records and there is nothing mentioned about that bank or Conwell in the designation report. Nor does the google have a record of that bank. Do I have the wrong building? Or did they make up an entire history to go with a building … with an entire history?? Anyway, the coffee shop will also serve breakfast, lunch and an early dinner — hours are 7:30 to 9p weekdays; 9a to 9p weekends.

Jon Pepper sent this photo of Wagner Park completed gutted for its renovation. See updates on that here.

The Downtown Alliance will host its annual Spring Shred-a-thon and e-Waste Recycling Event on Sunday, April 14, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Fulton between Ryders Alley and Cliff Street. There will be a mobile shredding truck ready to securely destroy and recycle all sensitive documents, tax receipts and old bills. They will also collect electronics. See more info and the list of what is accepted here.

I had never noticed this sweet chalk drawing of the neighborhood at Fonda on Duane Street. Washington Market Park gets a prominent treatment.



  1. The coffee shop is indeed in 20X. No idea about the backstory, it seems to be made up. There were multiple banking halls in the building, including for Canadian Commerce who was originally on the site before the building was built.

    This is the banking hall that was featured in Inside Man. I used to live in the building, and that room was temporarily used as the desk for the in-house dry cleaners. Typically it was vacant, though, and the doorpeople are pretty friendly and would let you sneak around to all the old unused areas. If you followed one of the big marble staircases downstairs, you could actually find one of the old banking vaults with the doors.

    Great building, and I’m glad they finally cleaned the façade. I’m aiming to head there for a drink in the near future.

  2. It’s a totally made up backstory. The hint is in its name: CON WELL. LOL! I have been meaning to post about this myself. Nonetheless, it is a wonderful use of this amazing space!

  3. I see they have a blend called Sleep No More espresso–same people behind that legendary production? Seems very on-brand for them. (Their newest project is Speakeasy Magick–highly recommend!)

    • If my memory serves, Sleep No More wanted to open a location within the banking halls of the building. There was a lot of pushback due to expected crowds and FHV in the narrow streets. So I guess it’s likely it’s the same people, and they just pivoted to something that didn’t draw opposition from residents.

      • Emursive got the liquor license for a promenade/immersive theater experience in the building a couple of years ago (in spite of the protests) and have been hiring/building out site beyond just the coffee shop. The production is supposed to be opening this summer but it will probably be later. The new piece will be called “Life and Trust” and will be based on the story of Faust. I wouldn’t be surprised if this Faustian character ends up being this Mr. Conwell himself…or maybe the tempting devil! Like the McKittrick Hotel for Sleep No More, it looks like production team are already building up a “legend”. (McKittrick has a similar “legend”…the website claims that it was built as a hotel in the 1930s but never opened because of an unspecified tragedy.). Also, check out the large painting behind the bar…it was specially commissioned for the shop and seems to be telling a creepy, Faustian tale set within the bank building…perhaps a preview? The term “Life and Trust” has an interesting connection to a quote from Goethe’s Faust…like Sleep No More and Macbeth. McKittrick ended up housing 2-3 food/drinking venues along with the Sleep No More space. It looks like they will do the same here. Enjoy!

        • Interesting, thanks! Faust is awesome, though I’ve never seen the original SNM.

          In the years I lived there, they really could not figure out what to do with those halls, so at the very least, glad at least some of the spaces are getting activated.

  4. Could you post the link to the Wagner Park renovation update? You wrote “see updates on that here” – assuming “here” was meant to link to a page. Thanks.

  5. Walking down past South Cove in Battery Park City is now so depressing. They’ve got a lot of Battery Park under construction too. I just hope they complete if quickly and that the plants and trees grow back SOON.