Letter from L. L. GREENLEAF to ERASTUS FAIRBANKS, dated March 21, 1857.
Mr. Fairbanks, Dear Sir,
Mr. Towle, the Architect, has just called in to request me to make some inquires of you as one of the Commissioners for rebuilding the State House at Montpelier.
He says he understood at first that Mr. Silloway had been
engaged as the Architect, but now learns that such is not yet the fact; and further
learns that two or three parties in this city are making strenuous exertions for the
work. He would like very much indeed to get the work himself, and what he desires me to ascertain from you is, whether the matter is already so far that an application from him would not be listened to. He remembers that his price for making plans for your Court House, was regarded as rather high, and seems to be a little apprehensive that you may on that account have become somewhat prejudiced against him.
I ventured to express to him my opinion that he need have no apprehension upon that
for if his claims should be regarded by the commissioners as greater than those of others, you would not allow that matter, I presumed, to have any influence with you.
I told him, of course, that I know nothing of the matter, but would, as a favor to
him, make the inquiry of you. He desires that you will, if you feel free to do so,
just drop me a line by return mail; and if the field is clear he may then present
his claims to the commissioners. He seems to feel himself abundantly qualified for
Among other things, he states that he made the plans for the extension of the Mass. State House which were in the main adopted by the Legislature.
You will, I trust, excuse me for troubling you in this way, for under the circumstances I thought it would be proper for me to do so.
Yours cc.L. L Greenleaf.
References in this letter:
Erastus Fairbanks, (1793-1864) was a two-time governor of Vermont. His first term was 1852-3, and his second was in 1860-1, after a span of time out of office, probably because he signed the Vermont alcohol prohibition law. He was appointed to the committee which oversaw the reconstruction of the State House after fire destroyed the earlier building in 1857 but appears not to have served as a commissioner.
On January 6, 1857, fire destroyed the State House in Montpelier. The State House was being warmed for a Constitutional Convention. A special session of the legislature was conened on February 18 to decide what should be done. Governor Ryland Fletcher appointed three commissioners, George Perkins Marsh, Norman Williams, and John Porter, and one superintendent, Thomas E. Powers, to oversee the construction.
Thomas W. Silloway, (1828-1910), was only thirty years old in 1857 when he was chosen architect for the new State House in Montpelier. Silloway was from Massachusetts, and had worked in the office of Ammi B. Young, the architect who designed the previous building. Silloway and Dr. Powers, the superintendent of construction for the 1857 job, had worked together to design and build a new courthouse in Woodstock, Vermont, that burned in 1854.