Builder’s Iron Foundry Office

also known as Providence Traffic Tribunal, Traffic Court

A converted industrial office building became the State Traffic Tribunal but closed for better digs

About this Property

Reason for Demolition

This is surely a building that very few people will shed a tear for. A place to pay traffic fines, see a judge, and possibly lose your license is not going to make anyone reminisce fondly.

Before its conversion in the mid-seventies, though, the building was part of the Builder’s Iron Foundry as its main office starting in 1950. It was surrounded by other industrial buildings, a few of which remain.

Sadly, the bulk of the Builder’s Iron Foundry burned in 2015 when an illegal pot-growing facility was using butane to produce hash oil.1 Butane, when not properly ventilated, is extremely flammable. The building at 4 Sims Avenue burned to the ground and that was the last of the Builder’s Iron Foundry.

This building was vacated in 2007 for a new traffic court in Cranston. It was leveled about nine years later in 2016.

Current Events

The lot was vacant from 2016 to 2019 but a self-storage facility was built here starting in 2020.


This building is a single building out of the larger Builder’s Iron Foundry to the northwest. The complex grew over time in a densely built industrial area.

Of what remains in the area, the Portland Group Plumbing Supply building next door was previously Pittsburgh Plate Glass, built in 1939 (before a G.M. Hopkins map was drawn but after the 1939 aerial photo was taken).

The site of the current adult club “Fantasies” on the other side was built on the former location of a large wood-frame structure for the Textile Finishing Machine Company. The building was razed between 1997 and 2003 when the Fantasies building appears in an aerial photo.

From the “Industrial Sites and Commercial Buildings Survey (ICBS)” by PPS and the AIA, 2001-2002, hosted by (now defunct)

(Excerpt including description of the office)

[…] By ca. 1919, Builders Iron Foundry (established 1822) had moved to this location. Builders Iron Foundry had its origins with the High Street Furnace Company (1820-1853) until being established as Builders Iron Foundry in 1853. The company was affiliated with Armington and Sims in the 1890s, suppliers of large steam engine castings. They produced the marble and steel staircase for the Library of Congress.

The company operated under this name for 100 years until changing its name to B-I-F Industries, Inc. in 1953. The foundry manufactured architectural iron work as well as precise castings and in 1948, adopted a new method to insure the production of uniform castings. A new office building was opened in 1950 on the company’s 130th anniversary. […]

In the News

State Traffic Tribunal hits the road

by Mark Arsenault
Providence Journal | January 12, 2007 (abridged)

On the final day of court yesterday at the Harris Avenue site of the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal, hundreds of alleged violators made the long stroll from far-flung parking spots, along trash-strewn sidewalks to the courthouse in a converted manufacturing building next to a strip club that brags it was voted number one in the Northeast by Exotic Dancer Magazine.

The line to get through the metal detector stretched out the front door and into the cold, down the sidewalk, almost to the parking lot shared with Club Fantasies. The courthouse sidewalk was littered with cigarette stubs. A woman stamped out her butt on the concrete, beneath the sign forbidding smoking within 100 feet from the building.

With a broken window on the second floor and a discarded umbrella overturned in the bushes in the front lawn that was full of blown leaves, the courthouse at 345 Harris Ave. doesn’t radiate a solemn sense of justice.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Frank J. Williams has called the Traffic Tribunal one of the two places Rhode Islanders most hate to go, along with the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

At least the environment is about to get better. The court is closed today and will reopen next week at its new building in Cranston, on the corner of Howard Avenue and Route 2, at the entrance to the John O. Pastore complex. The $21-million building will have 86,000 square feet of space and more than 400 parking spots. Construction began in September 2005.

“For the public, there finally will be enough room,” said Judge Edward C. Parker during a recess yesterday on his last day on the bench in the old court building. “Did you see how long the line was to get in here this morning? The people waiting outside? Now, what if it was snowing? In the new place there will be room for everybody. It will be better for the public and will give a better perception for the court.”

He jerked a thumb toward a window that faced the teal-painted strip club next door. “It doesn’t help to be next door to the adult entertainment facility.”

Parking at the old building has been a long-standing problem, too. The front parking lot, in which former Traffic Tribunal Judge Marjorie Yashar was famously accused of striking the car of a magistrate, is as cramped as the courthouse. Parts of Harris Avenue are posted no-parking zones. Parker said that sometimes people would come into court, wait in line to be fined or to lose their license, and then go back to their cars to discover a parking ticket. “It’s a wonder,” he said, “that nobody ever tried to drive in the front door.”

The Harris Avenue factory building was retrofitted in 1974 to be a courthouse. Parker’s courtroom has worn carpeting around the rostrum and electrical wires fixed to the floor with silver duct tape. […]

Arsenault, Mark. “State Traffic Tribunal hits the road.” Providence Journal (RI), All ed., sec. News, 12 Jan. 2007, pp. A-01. NewsBank: America’s News, Accessed 8 Feb. 2022.

  1. Mulvaney, Katie. “Courts 5 charged with running pot oil labs — Liquid sparked Providence fire; another blaze S. Kingstown man.” Providence Journal (RI), sec. RI News, 31 Mar. 2016, p. 1. NewsBank: America’s News, Accessed 8 Feb. 2022.