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Letter from THOMAS WILLIAM SILLOWAY to GEORGE PERKINS MARSH, dated August 25, 1858.

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Title: Letter from THOMAS WILLIAM SILLOWAY to GEORGE PERKINS MARSH, dated August 25, 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 August 25, 1858., Original located at the University of Vermont's Special Collections in the George Perkins Marsh Collection, filed by date., (accessed January 22, 2018)

Letter from THOMAS WILLIAM SILLOWAY to GEORGE PERKINS MARSH, dated August 25, 1858.

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

Published by: University of Vermont. All rights reserved.

Publication Information

Boston Aug. 25..1858

My Friend Marsh. Your letter of the 26th inst is received. I am glad to hear that it has been discovered by Richards & Powers, that my figures are right after all. I informed you in one or more of my letters, that my ordinates might not be precisely right, as I had not struck the thing out full size, and in the last drawing I sent you, (not spoken of in your letter) I made a little lee way for them. Had I been striking it out I should have used the 22' radius and let the ordinates go, but it matters not, if they will give me the 19'6" outside, and the 40' diameter when finished These can be got with any radius from 20' to 25' The curve would vary, but the diameter and hight might be made the same. The 22'2" radius is right enough. Now by following the finish drawings step by step they cannot get off the track. All the trouble made might have been avoided, had they followed the figures not one has been amended. When I think of the dome they had struck out on the floor, just about -------------------------------- Page -------------------------------- to be used, full 3' flatter than mine I think I can never be duly thankfull, that I threw myself into the gap, and found in you one able, and sucessfull, in defending the right. It only needed words of condemnation from you in relation to me and my work, and the impossibilities of working from my drawings would have been established, & the new dome struck out and built. This last triumph, encourages me to continue my interest for the building. I shall go up Tuesday, and stay till Friday. When I sent you the last drawings, the night before you meeting, I sent a sketch of St. Pauls If I mistake not, I said the radius there was 104' The book is an old one and some worn. I am now inclined to think the whole dome is 104', finished it is 112' . You will gather from my letter sent with the drawings named, my reasons for using the curves I did. If you are not already clear on the things written in that letter, please look it over. I would have you weigh well all I say in regard to perspective effect, and how that the base moulding, and attic, will in a degree lend an appearance of hight -------------------------------- Page -------------------------------- to the dome as a whole. The principal thing we needed to guard against was anything like flatness on the top. We need to have the curve so that from any, and all, points of observation, we see the whole of the sweep up to the balustrade. I once wrote you that in the distance, the attic will be confounded with the dome, and all, from the top of the cornice, will look like a "Sta Marie" dome, but that the near view will show the members all full, and remove the ill effect of so huge a thing, on a severe Greek building, as a dome would be, if realy, as large as the distant view would make appear. In designing the whole, even to the details of finish, I have tried to keep in view all these considerations. I can never express the satisfaction I feel in anticipating an adherence to the original. The parts were designed carefully so as to produce each an effect of their own which when viewed apart, would look right, and as a whole, would be in harmony. A variation of any moment would disturb the whole. I will now believe that with what aid I can render the Master Carpenter, all will come out right. You -------------------------------- Page -------------------------------- ask for information in regard to the finish. I will send with this the sketch you request. It is difficult to explain things of the kind by writing. This very fact, was one of the greatest evils I had to contend with last year with Powers. I cannot discuss why Richards should even intimate that he has the least difficulty in getting 19'6" It is a fact, that we can get anything from 18' to 22' advancing by one quarter of an in. With that simple assertion I will leave the point. I wish you to read the following with care. Every part of that dome from the coppering of the roof, up to the curve of the dome, is drawn on paper, and all the sections shaded full size. The drawings were finished eight months ago. All the work has been got out by them, and six months ago was ready to put up. In addition to the full size drawing all are figured. Now they have only to put the circular curbs on outside of the octagonal framing already there, and then begin at the coppering, and build up the 12 sided pedestal--next, the sheathed drum for the columns,--next, the entablature,--next the attic, then, the moulding at the dome base, and after this , the dome itself 19'6" high, and finaly, crown all with the balustrade. Now as the hights are all marked, no sort of difficulty exists in having any hight we please for the curved part. I imagine you are some troubled in regard to this 19'6" idea, to see how I get it so low. The balustrade cuts down onto it some, and thus truncates it. I have promised to make you a drawing but candidly, I know not what to make you. Before I go any further I must ask if you are in possession of a copy of my section of the whole thing (vertical) from top to bottom? If you are not, and desire it, I will make one and send it. You shall have a rough sketch to-day. I do not by making a part straight diminish the diameter of the curved part. You may have got a wrong impression of what I meant by "ribs" I may have used the term to signify the rough planks over which the [...] is to be nailed. Your letter of a day or two ago was received.

T. W. Silloway

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