Downtown Bonanza Bus Terminal

also known as Shortline Bus Terminal

A low-slung, semi-circular mid-century modern transportation hub in downtown Providence.

About this Property

Reason for Demolition

A fascinating little piece of Providence architecture history… this funky circular set of structures was surely a love-it-or-hate-it building. Similar in style to the Brutalist Fogarty building and the Circular Gulf Station of the same time period, the Bonanza Bus Terminal and its style was the glassy modern box of its day. 60s architecture was a lot about cast curvilinear concrete and long spanning arches. To blend in with its surroundings (the Providence Journal building), the bus terminal was covered in red brick.

Photo 2 shows page 109 from the Downtown Providence 1970 Master Plan drafted in 1961. The plans called for a new bus terminal at this location, but did not yet forecast the architectural style that the station would take. Interestingly, the Master Plan also suggested that a Civic Center be built (which it was in 1975), the railroad tracks to be moved (which happened by 1986), and Union Station be demolished (which thankfully did not happen), that the old City Hall be demolished in favor of a new one (which Buddy Cianci famously blocked), that Westminster Street be closed to cars and become a Pedestrian Mall (which happened in the late 60s, failed, and was returned to vehicles by 1986), elderly housing be constructed (Dexter House, 1960) and the reinterpretation of “Weybossett Hill”, which led to the closing of streets and creation of Cathedral Square in front of Grace Church by I.M. Pei.

Photos were few and hard to come by (how many people take pictures of bus stations) so if you have some in your own collection please consider donating. As stations go, though, this one seemed fairly memorable, so send in those stories of walking by or waiting for a bus in this curvy little place.


From the Statewide Historical Preservation Report, Rhode Island Historical Preservation Commission. 1981 — page 58

Philemon E. Sturges, III, architect, 1- and 2-story brick building with flat roofs; exterior articulated by semicircular end walls repeated throughout the buildings of the complex. Built as a recommendation of the 1959 Master Plan, Downtown Providence 1970, the bus terminal is one of the most handsome complexes erected as part of urban renewal in the 1960s; it is particularly well suited to its site and lends an urbane note to the streetscape. Located near the railroad station and the intra-city bus terminal at Kennedy Plaza, the bus terminal provides a significant transportation link in Downtown Providence.