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Hamilton Union Terminal

Hamilton Union Terminal, 40 High Street. "It has both dignity and color," a reporter said of the city's new bus terminal in 1931. "Indiana limestone embellished with blue Rookwood tile inserts and decorative aluminum strips, along with a pleasing graceful design gives the exterior that beauty which characterizes all of today's most advanced commercial units," he said in describing the bus station at 40 High Street. Earlier in the year, a city survey reported 200 inter-city buses passing through Hamilton daily. They were served by a make shift storefront station at the southwest corner of Front and High streets which required buses to park and double-park on the street. Within six months, that inadequate facility was replaced by the $25,000 terminal dedicated Saturday afternoon, Nov. 21, 1931. In May 1931, the Ohio Bus Lines Co. had bought the site of the former Anderson Furniture Store from John A. Schwalm, who also owned the adjacent Rialto Theater at the northwest corner of Front and High streets.

The terminal was designed by Hamilton architects, Frederick G. Mueller and Walter R. Hair. The F. K. Vaughn Building Company of Hamilton started construction started Aug. 10. Buses began using the terminal at 6:30 a.m., Sunday, Nov. 22, 1931. "The building proper is 31 feet wide and 62 feet deep," a newspaper reported in 1931. "A driveway 20 feet wide extends along its west side the full depth of the block (200 feet) from High Street to Market. Its main entrance from High Street leads directly into the waiting room which occupies the full width and height of the structure and 38 feet of its depth," the report said. "It has been made especially attractive with marble terrazzo floors and ornamental plaster walls and ceiling. Here are found the ticket office, telephone booths, newsstand, baggage and check room, and lunch and refreshment facilities. From the west side of this waiting room an exit leads to the bus platform. "On the north side is the main stair which affords access to the drivers' club room and men's restroom on the ground floor, and the offices and women's lounge on the mezzanine floor. "A pleasant, comfortable restroom and lounge for women occupies half of the mezzanine floor, while the balance is devoted to executive offices. Another feature of this floor is a balcony which overlooks the main waiting room," the newspaper said. Hamilton wasn't the only city with a new bus station. In 1930, $10 million was spent to build new bus terminals in U. S. cities. That year there were 32,150 inter-city buses and 13,348 city buses in operation, a total of 45,498 vehicles. Companies had added 4,697 buses to their fleets in that early Depression year. When opened in 1931, Ohio Bus Lines Co. operated 78 buses daily through its new Hamilton terminal. Most of its fleet was 525-horsepower General Motors coaches seating from 21 to 40 passengers. Other companies also used the terminal. The High Street building served as a bus terminal for 40 years. Later, it housed a dry cleaner and law offices until acquired by the City of Hamilton for office use before being demolished.

The previous bus ticket office across High Street had been "everything from a church to a saloon," according to a 1931 newspaper report. "The old building is known to have been in existence as early as 1846. The second story housed the Universalist Church. The large hall in which the congregation worshipped subsequently became an armory, dance hall and a billiard hall," the article said. [The hall was known as Lindley Hall or Lindley's Hall, see separate entry.] "The lower floor has been occupied by the United States post office, a jeweler, a billiard hall and a saloon."

"When touring cars and buses first began running from Hamilton to the neighboring cities, this corner became their starting point and in time the ground floor was remodeled into a waiting room and station," the article said of the structure at the southwest corner of Front and High streets, now the site of a church parking lot.


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