Hidden PVD

Buddy’s Palace on Power Street

The site of the famous fireplace log debacle can now be your home


For a short while, a reader of means can call Residential Properties and live out a first-rate Providence fantasy: renting the former home of Buddy Cianci. A low-slung, neocolonial structure with a decorative central turret, Buddy’s house at 33 Power Street slightly resembles a first-generation Howard Johnson’s. A retaining wall keeps the property flush with Benefit Street, affording a picture-perfect view of the city while Power careens downhill.

It was during divorce proceedings in 1982 when Mayor Buddy Cianci moved in – renting, in fact, from future governor Bruce Sundlun. Buddy’s wife was asking for $500,000, and in the sunken living room, complete with full bar, Buddy tortured her alleged lover with a fireplace log and lit cigarette in an attempt to extort the entirety of the settlement.

The assault cost Buddy his mayorship, but he soon bought the house from Sundlun and it was once again palace to the Prince of Providence. Or at least a section of it was – during a second run of victorious mayoral elections in the 1990s, Buddy subdivided 33 Power Street to avoid foreclosure. He kept the (currently available) unit with the cavernous living room, into which he was known to give speeches from the second-floor balcony.

It was from the foyer of this unit that Buddy opened the door to FBI agent Dennis Aiken in 1999. Buddy sold the home soon after, ostensibly to fund his legal battle against the 27 charges arising from Operation Plunder Dome, which Aiken had knocked on his door to discuss before raiding City Hall. By December 2002, Buddy was serving a five-year prison sentence for racketeering conspiracy.

In retrospect, Buddy could hardly have found a home with more appropriate symbolism. Residing halfway up College Hill, the city’s first Italo-American mayor never truly summited that well-preserved bastion of Yankee power. And of all houses to be perched halfway up College Hill, this one was a former horse stable, McMansionized to express an outdated concept of power: gold chandeliers, dark wood panelling, a recurrent haze of cigar smoke.

Buddy’s gone, but 33 Power Street could still be yours: four bedrooms, six bathrooms, for $7,500 a month.