I remember the Greyhound buses arriving in the basement of the Hovde building way way back. It was right across from the Lorraine Hotel (now condos) and you can only imagine the convenience and elegance of arriving downtown at night and stepping right across the street to a luxurious hotel only a block from the Capitol.
I am not sure it was the Hovde building then -- I thought Hovde bought it and kicked the bus companies out, and that was when they went to the 900 block of E. Main. On the Fairchild side of the Hovde building you can still see where the buses entered, though it goes to the parking level today.
You might have to click that for yourself -- it's not letting me do inline images again tonight.
The Hovde building, Madison's first steel building, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ta ... in_Madison
) is a substantial, reasonably intact piece of architecture with a limestone exterior, art deco (or art moderne) carved panels, and a nifty sort of pediment at the top. The carving is similar to what the old Manchester's building had at the corner of Mifflin and Wisconsin Ave., to the Wilson St. state office building, and to what the present Children's Museum had or has -- all buildings from the same era.
For some reason I thought the Hovde originally housed the phone company, back when phone companies had rows and rows of operators. Does that square with what you recall, or was the phone company down the street?
(I remember a friend who worked at the phone company back then (1971?) as an information operator (you just dialed O, and there she was). She complained that the operators, all women, were required to wear skirts and nylon stockings on the job even though nobody ever saw them. What an era.)
Here's another reference:http://www.emporis.com/building/hovdebu ... son-wi-usa
One of the finest Art Deco buildings in Madison, the Wisconsin Power and Light Building (now Hovde Building) features terra cotta spandrel panels carved with power turbines.
The architects were Law, Law, and Potter, and the building was completed in 1928, a golden era for urban architecture in the midwest.
Sorry, folks, but it's Saturday night....
Back on topic:
We sure could use a "real" bus depot downtown, and I hope they build something substantial that will serve students and others for a long time. If they ever get downtown rail working again, having buses come and go right near the rail right-of-way by the Kohl Center is a natural.