Atlas and Terminal Warehouses aka Shepard’s Department Store Warehouse


From the News

Cumberland Farms to tear down Allens Ave. warehouses

By Chris Barrett | PBN Staff Writer | Posted 8/26/11

Cumberland Farms received permission Monday from the Providence Historic District Commission to raze the two Terminal Warehouse Buildings off Allens Avenue.

The convenience store chain has no plans to develop the land after the demolition, according to plans filed with the city’s Department of Planning and Development. The company did not respond to a message seeking comment.

The two five-story, brick, pier-and-spandrel buildings date to 1913, according to the Providence Preservation Society. The Terminal Warehouse Co. originally envisioned the buildings serving as two ends of a sprawling warehouse designed to serve the nearby state pier. The middle section, however, was never completed but the two warehouses did store goods from the nearby port nonetheless.

The property would later pass to the Shepard Co. and later Cumberland Farms. They have been informally known in recent memory as the Atlas and Shepard warehouses.

Not too long ago

These structures have a very nice spot along Providence’s mainly industrial waterfront along Allens Avenue. During Vincent “Buddy” Cianci’s administration, it was proposed to redevelop the area with a plan called “New Cities”. New Cities would create “Narragansett Landing”, a 200-acre development on waterfront land that is currently occupied by oil and gas storage facilities, as well as the Promenade (behind the mall) and Westminster Crossings (over the highway I-95). The idea of New Cities stuck around during the Cicilline’s administration, although nothing moved forward with it (Patrick Conley moved forward with his own version, called Providence Piers alongside the former Dunlop Tire building, but not much has come from that yet, either).


Excerpts from Rhode Island Historical Rssources Archive

The Atlas and Shepherd buildings are two large, five-story warehouses intended as the two ends of a gargantuan warehouse at the Port of Providence, however, the middle sections were never constructed[.]

The current owner, Cumberland Farms, Inc. (CFI) relocated their Canton, Massachusetts headquarters in 1984, at which time it began using Shepherd, Atlas and the out buildings for a variety of storage and repair shop uses. According to CFI’s Construction Purchasing Supervisor, Jose Moreira, who started at CFI in 1986, three floors of the Shepherd Building were used to store fixtures and equipment from their retail outlets, and with the 1987 merger with Gulf Oil, extra signage. The Atlas Building was used from 1987 to 1992 for sheet metal repairs for their retail storefront and canopy components. The single story outbuildings contained material for construction, HVAC systems, gas pumps and new equipment until September 16, 2007. The garage in front continues in use to service and repair Gulf Oil tanker trucks.

From Providence Preservation Society’s “2010 Most Endangered Properties List” —

It is a complex of two large, five-story, brick, pier-and-spandrel buildings set on the east side of Allens Avenue. The westernmost building stands close to the road and features a gable-roof parapet, brick corbelling, a stone stringcourse at the first story level, and brick pilasters. The north and south bays of the façade are demarcated by pedimented parapets and brick piers. The building’s primary entrance is centered on the facade, within a recessed opening. Secondary entrances are located on the north elevation of the building. The facade features minimal fenestration, with windows on the end and central bays. Fenestration is comprised of rectangular and segmental-arch openings with 1/1 sash windows. Tiers of freight doors are located at four bay intervals. The building’s rear elevation is devoid of fenestration. Painted signage on the building identifies the structure as “Atlas” (Atlas Warehouse).

To the east stands the second warehouse building, which also features rectangular and segmental arch window openings, stone trim, tiers of freight doors, and projecting piers. A small, one-story, flat-roof ell projects from the west elevation of the building. Two vehicular entrances are located on the north elevation of the one-story structure. The building is identified by painted signage as the “Shepard Warehouses”.

To the south stands a long, one-story, rectangular, concrete block building identified by the assessor’s records as a warehouse for Cumberland Farms. The structure is set perpendicular to Allens Avenue. A small, one-story, flat-roof ell projects from the west end of this building. According to the 1983 Sanborn map, this ell was constructed in 1950. Further south on the site stands a one-story building comprised of a concrete block ell (west) and a brick ell (east) identified on Sanborn maps as a Paper Warehouse (west) and a Beds, Springs, and Mattresses Warehouse (west).

Constructed in 1913, the five-story warehouses were intended as the two ends of a gargantuan warehouse at the Port of Providence. The middle sections were never constructed and the exposed, unfinished end walls of both buildings indicate the configuration originally intended for the complex (Woodward 1986:133). The Terminal Warehouse Company was incorporated in 1912. The buildings were used for the storage of freight from the State Pier, which laid 300 yards away at this time and was heavily used. When the building was first built it was deemed burglarproof and fireproof. City directories identify Walter E. Young, president, and William M. Harris, vice president, in 1929. The property was acquired by the Shepard Company in 1948. The buildings are currently owned by Cumberland Farms.

len smith Providence has such a waste of land along the waterfrount. oil tanks sit there on polluted soil, which will cost a fortune to clean up .Why not let harrahs casino pay to clean up the land and build a spectactular signature building on the water frount and keep it in the city. Cruise ships could dock people who wanted to shop could take the new trolley line into the city to shop and eat in the resturants. After people have been on a ship the want to get off and explore a city. After a while they get tired of being on a boat and want to see other things.It would be a great start for the waterfrount. Other investors would then want to build there, and that would keep the money in the city. Building in the suburbs and distroying suburban neighborhoods is not where the casino should be built.Look at the Sidney opera house , it is the image one thinks of when they see a picture of Sidney. This would be the beginng of the waterfrount and help it to be developed.Let them pay to clean up the polluted soil. If they are going to spend millions of dollars it should be there. Other wise that land is going to sit there for many years to come. I can envison condos, parks cruise ships resturants concerts and bring activity to the waterfrount instead of it just sitting there unused for years .

Craig M. Photo 8 actually shows the old Shepards Warehouse, which of course was utilized by the Shepards Department Store that was on Washington Street… Cannot give you much details, except for the fact that as far back as I can remember, back to the early 60s all the department store merchandise came from that location… A shame how much of Providences history has been allowed to rot away… I understand change, and the impact that time has on things, but much history is being allowed to slip away, unchecked…

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