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Letter from THOMAS WILLIAM SILLOWAY to GEORGE PERKINS MARSH, dated October 6, 1858.

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Title: Letter from THOMAS WILLIAM SILLOWAY to GEORGE PERKINS MARSH, dated October 6, 1858.


  • Silloway, Thomas William, 1828-1910


  • Marsh, George Perkins, 1801-1882

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Extent: 1 letter

Genre(s): letter


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Letter from THOMAS WILLIAM SILLOWAY to GEORGE PERKINS MARSH, dated October 6, 1858., Original located at the University of Vermont's Special Collections in the George Perkins Marsh Collection, filed by date., (accessed December 17, 2017)

Letter from THOMAS WILLIAM SILLOWAY to GEORGE PERKINS MARSH, dated October 6, 1858.

Transcribed by :

TEI mark-up by : James P. Tranowski andEllen Thomson

Published by: University of Vermont. All rights reserved.

Publication Information

Boston Oct. 6..1858

Mr Marsh

Yours of the 4th. inst. is received, the sketches contained cc. You remark that you are disappointed to learn that the plan does not forbid wooden stairs. Had I ever imagined that Powers would have been so rash as to use anything but iron I would have (if need be) paid for ink at a dollar per drop to write "These stairs to be made entirely of iron" He knew as well as any man living, that the Commissioners from the first, meant anything but wood. He talked with me over and over again, in regard to iron for the whole of them and I am at a loss to know what influence has been brought to bear upon him. So sure was I and well convinced that he would do right that in no instance did I attempt to denote in the plans the material of even the 1st flights. Of course this was not attempted any more than it was to write on the partitions "brick" and on other facets what they were to be of -------------------------------- Page -------------------------------- He does not make the 1st. flights of iron because it is written iron over them but because the departure was too patent. He is without excuse. He was in the legislature and heard the whole story told. He was in consultation with me at the time I made up my 2d report. He always meant to have iron, and had I even suggested wood he would have denounced the whole thing. The probable truth is, that Richards could manage wood better than iron, & advised him that way. The stair builder informs me that Richards tells him Powers is not competent at all to do the overseeing of the work and that he R. gets along as best he can. Wood work can be cut, or in most any way made to fit their brick work but iron must be made by actual patterns These incur difficulties in the way of drawings which R in all probability would not readily master. In the case of the wooden stairs he was never sure they were right, (that is his drawings to produce work to fix the place) and hence he gave instructions to the stair builder to get them -------------------------------- Page -------------------------------- up the best he could but not say anything in regard to them if he could help it. This thing as modus operandi would answer well with wood work where he had but one man to get along with as he the builder would be responsible, and having liberty to vary from the drawings could of course make them as he desired. If iron work be done the case is not so. To many parties must be employed to keep a unity of opinion in case of error in drawings. The pattern maker would not take responsibility of getting up a set of patterns for castings without actual instructions, lest his work when cast from would not come together. However the case may be Power's ignorance alone has got him started in the wrong direction and his mulish nature has since kept him heading the wrong way. He is without excuse. He always talked of iron for all the stairs and nothing else was ever named except marble. I shall testify under oath that he always expected to use iron till a late day. I also wrote to him a good letter on the subject at an early day, before he made his contract for this wooden trash, and set forth the case in all its bearings. Inspite of commissioners or -------------------------------- Page --------------------------------truth or right he went on and made his contract. If he ever attempts to say that he was in ignorance my letter to him shall confound him. I have copies of all His letter was to my knowledge lieing on his table before his contract was made. When he found that the top of the upper (and I contend superfluous) flight landed within two feet of the boarding of the roof, and the measurements of the stair builder afterwards discovered that they could not be built within 20 feet of the place at which they were drawn and have room for one to stand upright upon them, one would think he then would have staid his hand for a time at least. But there, I have said enough. I hope the tragic scene will end soon. I am a good deal tired out with it. It has been in the main the support I have had from you that has kept me in courage to keep the run of the work and up to now do as much as I have. I trust you will feel conscious of having rendered the state a good service and that will be your reward.

A tract on the Architecture of New England has been issued by the Historical Society Thinking you may like a copy of it I send one today

Yours truly

Thomas W. Silloway note:121 Court st.

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