Vermont Capitol and the Star-Chamber
Testimony and Defence of the Superintendent of Construction, October Session of the Legislature of Vermont 1858.
At the request of many, who are indignant at the report of the famous "Committee on Public Buildings," made at the last session (1858) of the legislature of Vermont, a portion of the evidence used before that august tribunal, in justification ofthe acts of the Superintendent, is here published, a an antidote to the poison so widely disseminated by that delectable and spotless document. And for the information of such persons as may be ignorant of the extent to which the advocates of rum, (for they were at the bottom of the plot,) under the specious pretext of looking after the interests of the State in the construction of the capitol, plunged into the regions of absurdity in their thirst for revenge, it should perhaps here be stated that several charges were made against the Superintendent and his work, which even a packed Committee could not have the boldness to attempt to sustain; and hence some portion of the affidavits may seem applicable to issues not made. For instance, the "cracks in the walls," which, at one time during the investigation, certain heartless accusers trumped up and sought to invest with a sort of seriousness, and for which the gentleman with tin ear, and some others with "long ears," were suddenly seized with alarm for the safety of the building, suddenly sank into insignificance, and was far more even than the Reverend gentleman from Bridport, and "a majority" of his Committee, with all their overweening desire to manufacture sins with which to charge the Superintendent, could magnify into importance enough upon which to bestow even a passing remark in their immortal report!
The six iron columns standing in the entrance-story vestibule, with shells of over three inches in thickness, and weighing two tons each, spoken of in several of the affidavits, and upon which nearly five hundred dollars has been foolishly thrown away, will stand as lasting
monuments of the superior wisdom, skill and economy of this Mr. architect Silloway, who designed and ordered them, in spite of the protestations of the Superintendent, and claimed them as his "first great victory" over opposition to his wishes!
The plans and working drawings referred to by Mr. BRYANT, and Mr. RANDALL, were those furnished by Silloway, (and lithographed under his direction, at an expense to the State of $300,) and the reader will judge of their fitness and usefulness. Messrs. SEARS, FLANDERS, and FITCH, spoken of in the affidavit of Mr. BRYANT, are the men, as will be seen, who testify as the sufficiency of Silloway's Roof-Trusses, and to whom the Superintendent submitted the original drawings of them in April last, and who, at that time condemned them.
It will be seen the MR. BRYANT approves of the taste displayed by MR. RICHARDS, the architect, in his drawings for ceilings and entablatures, notwithstanding the criticism of the rejected architect; and does not endorse the silly idea advanced by Silly-way, that the presence of an architect is required at the work, all or most of the time during its progress, neither does he endorse him in any other particular.
All the testimony, however, offered by the Superintendent in justification of what he had done, was of little consequence in the minds of the intellectual giants who formed "a majority" of this committee. It was often declared at the very outset, by one who was presumed to know, that the committee were all right, and that the head of the Superintendent was sure to come to the block! And no thanks to the "majority" of the committee that it did not.
The location of the boiler under the east wing, for heating the building, it will be seen by the affidavits of two of the commissioners (and the other one knows the same fact,) and that of the contractor for doing the work, did not originate with the Superintendent;--and if there be any thing wrong connected with that matter, whether it be the "conspicuous chimney" in the rear, or the danger of an explosion, cannot be chargeable to him. If no suitable chimney was made for this purpose in the walls of the wing (as is the case,) it
was because the drawings indicated no such thing, an important fact in this case.
So far as the wooden stairs for the upper stories are concerned, and for which his Reverence and "the majority" were suddenly seized with such a wonderful "consarn o' mind," it need only be said, that it appeared before the committee, that far greater security would be afforded to the attic and roof against fire from below, by the construction of the proposed fire-proof ceiling to the staircases, than by the simple introduction of iron stairs, and a saving in expense to the State, of the snug little sum of twenty-two hundred dollars.
Much of the testimony here given, needs no explanation, as the public are already informed of the charges made against the Superintendent, both by the publicity given to the one-sided report of the committee, and of sundry newspaper articles which have recently appeared in different parts of the State in criticism of that famous report.
The testimony of GRIDLEY J. F. BRYANT,--than whom, no man in New England is more competent to judge of works of this kind, and all things connected therewith,--is worth more to the Superintendent, and will weigh more in the minds of men of brains, than the crude opinions of the Reverend Franklin W. Olmstead, and his associates in mischief, or of the pimps of the Press who find it necessary to whitewash the acts, if not the character, of this modern Star Chamber. The testimony of the othe r witnesses, on points upon which they testify, is equally valuable, and no less in conflict with the lame and impotent conclusions of "a majority" of this sapient committee, who thirsted for that, which, fortunately was as much above and beyond th eir reach, as was the best manner of constructing certain parts of the capitol, beyond their ability to comprehend. The whole is given a counterpoise to that very able "State Paper," yclept "REPORT of the Committee on Public Buildings," &c. To which the gentleman in clerical robes from Bridport stands godfather; and which, like a poisoned shirt, will stick to his Reverence quite as long as he will be likely to be remembered for his prominence as a legislature, or his peculiar excellencies as a man.
But to the affidavits, and then for the denouement:
JUDAH SEARS, OF BOSTON.
I, Judah Sears, of Boston, having examined certain plans of roof trusses, exhibited to me by Joseph R. Richards, as the plans of roof trusses designed by Thomas W. Silloway, for supporting the dome of the new Vermont State House, do not hesitate to say , that in my opinion, said trusses would be entirely insufficient for the purpose for which they were designed.
At Boston, October 25th, 1858, subscribed and sworn to, before
ROBERT I.. BURBANK,
Commissioner to take Depositions for the State of Vermont.
JONAS FITCH, OF BOSTON.
I, Jonas Fitch, at the request of Joseph R. Richards, architect, have examined certain plans of roof-trusses said to have been designed by Thomas W. Silloway, Esq., for supporting the dome of the new State House, now being erected in Vermont, and I giv e it as my opinion that said trusses, if constructed, would be found insufficient to the purpose for which they were designed.
At Boston, October 28th, 1858, subscribed and sworn to, before
ROBERT I. BURBANK,
Commissioner to take Depositions for the State of Vermont.
BENJAMIN H. FLANDERS, OF BOSTON.
I, Benjamin H. Flanders, of Boston, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, of lawful age, testify and say that I am a master carpenter, and have for the last fourteen years been engaged in framing for, and building almost every description of buildings; many of them of very large dimensions; and that some time early in April last, I was invited to Mr. Joseph R. Richard's office, in Boston, to examine certain drawings for roof-trusses, said to have been designed by Thomas W. Silloway, for the new capitol of Vermont, and after a careful and critical examination of said plans, I was fully of the opinion, that if framed in accordance with the same, and placed upon the walls, they would have wholly failed to support the weight that was intended, as shown by the plans, to be placed upon them; and I so informed the superintendent of construction at the time of said examination, and I see no reason to alter the opinion I then expressed. I refer more particularly to those intended to support the cupola and dome . The trusses for that part of the roof back of the dome were most decidedly weak, and, in my opinion, would have settled badly if made and raised as represented by said drawings. If constructed according to plans now shown by Mr. Joseph R. Richards, th ey will be most decidedly improved, and, in my jud-
ment, no fear need be apprehended of their sufficiency. The splices, as originally drawn, are decidedly objectionable, and if the tie-beams are used in the new construction, the spices must be altered.
I have known personally Mr. Judah Sears for more than twenty years. He is considered the King of framers in New England, and has not his superior. Whatever opinion he may give as to truss framing may be relied upon.
I have known Jonas Fitch for twenty years. He is a Master Builder, doing an immense business every year; and is a worthy, practical and reliable man.
BENJ. H. FLANDERS.
At Boston, November 9th, 1858, subscribed and sworn to, before
ROBERT I. BURBANK,
Commissioner to take Depositions for the State of Vermont.
GRIDLEY J. F. BRYANT, OF BOSTON.
I, Gridley J. F. Bryant, of Boston, in the State of Massachusetts, of lawful age, testify and say that I am by profession an Architect, and have been since the year A.D. 1839. Since which time I have been in active practice, and during the last ten ye ars have been mainly employed in the planning and superintendence of public structures of various kinds, for the United States, for States, for Counties, for cities and towns. In the carrying forward of these structures, it has been necessary for me to d esign, and draw out and specify, by myself and my agents, elaborate and intricate framing of timber, stone and brick-work, fire-proof construction, and in general all the details applicable to important construction.
I have been requested by the Superintendent in charge of the construction of the Vermont Capitol to examine the building, so far as completed, and to compare its construction and arrangement with certain designs said to have been prepared by Thos. W. S illoway, and certain changes that have been made thereto by Joseph R. Richards, and embodied in the actual construction of the edifice by the Superintendent; and also to examine certain parts of the actual construction of the building, for an opinion as t o their sufficiency and propriety. To wit:
The propriety and safety of the designs originally made for the supporting-trusses of the dome of the building, and the additional work and material connected with said trusses, in their actual construction. The usefulness of certain lithographic drawings, purporting to have been prepared as "working plans" for the use of said Superintendent and his employees in the construction of the building. What constitutes proper and useful drawings for the construction of a building like that of the State Capitol, and at what time during the progress of the work should they be prepared? What are the duties usually expected of an Architect, when employed to make the necessary designs and working plans and specifications, irrespective of the superintendence of the work?
Is it proper and safe to locate a boiler applicable to a steam apparatus in the cellar of a building, and is the position of a steam boiler, designed to be located in the cellar of the East wing of the structure now under consideration, safe and judic ious? What are the causes of certain minute cracks, or starts, in the courses of stone next below the windows of the first story of the wings? Was it judicious to piece and renew the portico columns, with the slab-pieces, in the manner now applied and being applied to the columns? Has the removal of a portion of the stone from the inside face of the front cellar-wall in the East wing, had any injurious effect upon the firmness and permanency of the structure thereon supported? Are the cast-iron columns which form the support of the iron beams and brick floorings of the story above the columns, judiciously designed and constructed for the weight required to be supported by them? Have you any knowledge of the practical experience in timber framing of Judah Sears, Jonas Fitch, Benjamin H. Flanders, of Boston, Mass.? Are the ceilings of the Senate Chamber and House of Representatives, as now being constructed, in such proportion and of such design, as to produce an effect appropriate to the general style of the building? Is it practically safe from fire, to construct wooden stairs immediately over those of iron, in the positions required by the arrangement of the building now under consideration? What knowledge have you of the competency and ability of Joseph R. Richards, of Boston, as an architect?
ANSWER TO QUESTION 1. -- In my judgment the designs for these trusses originally prepared, as represented to me by a certain drawing bearing the signatures of G. P. Randall and Wm. P. Parrott, have been most usefully improved by the additions made thereto in the actual execution of the trusses within the roof of the building, as represented by red lines drawn on the aforesaid plans. I am firmly impressed in the belief the without the additional strengthening, one of these trusses at least, would have wholly failed, and the other two trusses wou ld have partially failed to support properly the weight of such a dome and its appendages, as I now find placed on the building. The position and number of many of the braces in all three of the designs seem to me to be injudicious and unsafe, considerin g the very low pitch of the roof of the building, and the consequent acute angles at which they (the braces) are required to be replaced. The back of the braces at the meeting points of therafters with the collar-beams, in the original designs, carries w ith it a self-evident defect in the arrangement of the trusses. The introduction of skew-backs of iron at the important bearing points of the trusses is a well known judicious method of preventing the "meeting
of wood and wood" in heavy truss-framing, and in my judgment was important in the case now under consideration. Iron is much preferable to wood material, of any kind.
ANSWER TO QUESTION 2. -- Two sets of lithographic drawings have been shown to me, one purporting to be "working plans" suitable for the use of mechanics in cutting and fitting the granite-work of the exterior walls, and for laying out the interior part itions, doors, windows, &c. These drawings I have certified by my initials (G. J. F. B.) The other set, on a reduced scale, consist of exterior views and interior plans showing the arrangement of apartments also identified by the initials (G. J. F. B.) The larger set of the lithographs seem to me to be unnecessary in the construction of the building, as I consider it duty of an Architect to prepare an original and a duplicate set of drawings of all working plans. The smaller set of lithographs not being figured as "working plans" seem to be useful only as adjuncts to the usual public documents of all matters of the kind necessary to be brought to the notice of the Legislature. It is not unusual for such as these to be prepared for the purpose las t above stated; but not usual for "working plans" to be lithographed, unless a large number of copies are required for use, and then it is usually done at the expense of the contractor for the work to which they refer.
ANSWER TO QUESTION 3. -- Useful and proper drawings from which to construct and complete a building, constitute exterior views of each side of a building-- ground and story plans-- of foundations and floorings, and of each story above them. As many up right sections longitudinal and transverse as are requisite to clearly illustrate all interior and exterior formations not clearly seen by ground plans of stories,--details at large, and full size, of every part of the work not capable of being shown by f igures on a reduced scale, for a clear comprehension of the work to be executed. In my own practice I have usually prepared duplicates of all plans, as part of the duty of an Architect. The general designs for the structure should be drawn out and compl eted before any of the works are commenced, and the details and working plans should be made, from time to time as they are required for use, unless it is intended at the commencement of the building to contract out the whole work, in which case the worki ng drawings, specifications and details, should be prepared simultaneously with the designs.
ANSWER TO QUESTION 4. -- When an Architect, for a specific sum, undertakes to draw the designs, working plans, and specifications (for a building) only, the superintendence is no part of his duty, and the responsibility of the proper construction of th e building does not rest on him. If he agrees to make visits at specific periods when requested by the Superintendent, for the purpose of explaining, his drawings and papers, it is still no part of his duty to superintend the work. In my own practice, I have never considered it necessary for me to be on the spot from day to day, however important the structure, for the purpose of making explanations of drawings, unless I
was employed as Superintendent as well as Architect; nor do I believe it was necessary in this case for the Architect to spend most of his time here.
ANSWER TO QUESTION 5. -- The position proposed for the boiler of the heating apparatus, to-wit: the cellar of the building, is one heretofore selected in many important public structures; and, in my judgment, no harm could happen to any part of the str ucture from an explosion, should one occur, excepting to the wooden floor above; and this danger is of so small account as not to be of consequence. -- To guard against any possible contingency, a strong brick and iron beam fire-proof floor may, if though t best, be inserted above the boiler-room.
ANSWER TO QUESTION 6. -- In my judgment, the causes of these cracks are from the improper bonding of the stone, and the cutting of an opening in each stone for the introduction of the sill-bracket. These brackets should have been cut solid on the sto ne beneath the sill, or the bonding should have been varied.
ANSWER TO QUESTION 7. -- It seems to me that the piecing of the columns with slabs is proper and economical, and that it will be permanent, and not liable to be defaced or moved by the action of frost or the weather, and not objectionable in appearance : and under the circumstances attending the additional cost of renewing and removing the several sections or pieces of columns injured by fire, I should have advised a similar course had I been consulted on the subject. -- The amount of stone cut out from the original shafts for receiving the slab pieces now inserted and in preparation to be inserted, seems to be judicious, as a greater depth would, in my judgment, have weakened the original shafts without benefitting the work.
ANSWER TO QUESTION 9. -- These columns are said to be three inches in thickness of metal for the shell. If this is the case, they are of unnecessary thickness. A thickness of shell of three-fourths of an inch behind the flutes would have been ample .
ANSWER TO QUESTION 10. -- I have knowledge of the practical experience of all three of the gentlemen named. They are counted in Massachusetts as men of the largest experience in matters of the kind. They have all, during the last ten years, construct ed from my plans and those of other Architects some of the largest framed timber works executed in New England. No persons, in my judgment, can be better qualified to judge of timber framing works.
ANSWER TO QUESTION 11. -- From my examination of the furring for the ceilings and entablatures now in progress, and the full size and detail drawings showed me by the workmen engaged in their construction, it is my opinion that the ceilings and entabla tures will be tasteful and appropriate and of good proportion.
ANSWER TO QUESTION 12. -- The construction proposed is safe, if, as it is represented to me, it is intended to erect a brick wall of separation between the corridor and the staircase, and to line the under side of the stairs with iron, and also to cons truct a brick ceiling above, thus cutting off the staircases from combustible material above and below.
ANSWER TO QUESTION 13. -- I have known Joseph R. Richards for a period of fourteen years or more. Nine years of this time he was a student in Architecture in my office, and my chief assistant to prepare all important working drawing, and many of the i mportant specifications. During the time he has engaged in business as an Architect, his practice has been such as to warrant my saying that he is competent to design and superintend any structure, however intricate in its detail, likely to be offered to any of the profession in New England.
GRIDLEY J. F. BRYANT.
Montpelier, Vt., Nov. 3d, 1858.
STATE OF VERMONT,
Washington Co., ss
Personally appeared Gridley J. F. Bryant, and made oath that the foregoing statement by him signed, to be true according to his best knowledge and belief.
GEO. NICHOLS, Notary Public.
GURDON P. RANDALL, OF CHICAGO, ILL.
I, Gurdon P. Randall, of Chicago, in the State of Illinois, depose and say, that I am a professional Architect, and have been occupied in my profession for about ten years; and before that, was a carpenter and master builder-principally occupied in fra ming and constructing many buildings while engages as a carpenter. I was employed before I went to Chicago in constructing the buildings upon the Vermont Cental and the Rutland and Burlington Railroads.
I have examined certain drawings designed for roof-trusses, marked "A. B. C." upon which I have written my name. I think the truss A. is materially improved and strengthened by the improvements made and denoted on the plan or drawing, by the red lines.* The truss marked B. on said drawing, is entirely insufficient, and in my judgment would have broken down under the weight it was intended to support.
The truss marked C, as originally designed (as indicated by said drawings) is entirely defective and insufficient, and is very materially improved and strengthened by the improvements indicated by the red lines in said drawing.
I also state that in my judgment, the iron skew-backs and tie-rods, which have been used in the construction of the two large brick arches, in the main building, on which rest two of the double trusses for the support of the dome, are entirely proper, to give the necessary strength and security to said arches. I further state that the working drawings as shown to me, upon which I have written my
* The red lines indicated the improvements by Richards, and show the trusses as now framed.
name in pencil, are entirely deficient, in not being sufficiently figured to work by.
I further state that my attention has been called to a check in the mortar pointing and stone work, on the front of the east wing of the capitol. I have carefully examined it; also similar checks in the opposite wing of the building, and in other part s of the building. I find them all nearly alike, doubtless from the same cause; but in my judgment, they are not caused from any cutting of stone in the basement, but it may have been caused by the necessity of splicing the new on the old f oundation. The new required to take its bearing, and the old having taken its bearing. It is almost impossible to engraft new foundations on to old without some slight settlement of the new to its bearing. I regard these checks of very little consequen ce, and almost necessarily to be expected, and, if repointed, would not in my judgment show themselves again.
I further state that my attention has been called to the iron columns in the entrance-story vestibule; the shells of which are represented to me to be 3 or 3 1-2 inches thick. I think if the shells were three-fourths of an inch thick in the flute, the y would have been amply sufficient.
I further state that my attention has been called to the piecing of the columns. I have often seen them pieced in this way, and in my judgment it will prove durable and lasting, and not be affected by the weather.
My attention has also been called to the purpose of putting steam apparatus in the basement of the east wing; and will state that such apparatus for steam-heating is most generally placed under the building; the apprehended danger from explosion is so remote that it is generally disregarded. Public buildings are usually so constructed, and I am now building the State Normal University in Illinois, where I design to put such apparatus under the building. There are many advantages in such a position.< /P>
G. P. Randall.
Subscribed and sworn to this first day of November, 1858.
TIMO P. REDFIELD, Master in Chancery.
[ The following affidavit of Mr. Parrott was taken when it was supposed he could not be present before the committee. He afterwards testified upon the stand, and we give the affidavit as the substance of his testimony.]
WILLIAM P. PARROTT, OF BOSTON.
I, William P. Parrott, civil engineer, of Boston, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts of lawful age, do depose and say:
That I have examined the plan of trusses for the State House in Montpelier (now being constructed) which plan is identified by my signature. In my opinion the alterations made in red ink were requisite to give the trusses that strength which was requi red to carry the
load placed upon them; and that the cross bracing in the first plan, from the top was entirely inadequate both in proportion and arrangement. In proportion, because they would spring and give way under the pressure; for arrangement, because there was no counter bracing, and where they joined the top and bottom beams there was not sufficient surface to resist the pressure.
The plan now adopted is a well known arrangement. Has been tested upon almost all the Railroads in New England with which I am conversant; and is correct both in proportion and arrangement, and adequate to carry the load placed upon them.
Plan No. 2 from the top, is entirely defective, and would have gone down under the load. It is briefly the plan commonly used for road bridges having a pier. In this case, the pier is left out and the result would be the same a with the bridge with t he pier left out. I have no doubt the substitution of the plan now used was required to ensure the safety of the structure upon it.
The changes made in Plan No. 3 at the bottom of the sheet represented in red ink, were also required, and the strength of the truss is much increased by the alteration.
The iron angle-blocks substituted in the plan now used, are a great improvement in the method of constructing trusses to bear heavy weights, and are now commonly used for that purpose. This block was at one time patented. The patent has now expired. (See Howe's patent bridge.)
The general principles upon which these improvements are based, beside the change in proportion required, are first: - Obtaining a better angle for the braces, which angle is best at 45 degrees and giving to the ends of the braces a sufficient bearing surface to resist pressure. In my opinion there might have been greater security given to the dome, by advancing the posts further towards the surface of the structure, which, I judge from the amount of furring used, might have been done. This would ha ve brought a large number of the posts to rest nearer upon the front and side walls of the building, and would have given the plate of the dome a direct bearing upon said posts.
My attention has been called to the mending of the columns of the portico. The part now executed is well done. Such kind of work is not unusual in large buildings, having much ornamental work upon them. It does not impair the strength or durability of the building, and it is, in my opinion, a judicious course to mend them in the manner in which it has been done, rather than to substitute new ones, as in my opinion the columns for all practical purposes, are as good as new ones would have been.
In relation to the arrangement for heating this building, it is my opinion that the boiler is placed in a suitable place. Many public buildings, as well as private houses in Boston and vicinity, are heated by steam. In almost all cases the boiler is placed in the cellar. Among others which readily occur to my mind at this moment are Fitchburgh depot, Boston and Lowell, Merchants Bank building,
which contains nearly as much space as this State House, Globe Bank building and several others in that vicinity, almost every Hotel in the city of any size. The practical advantages for having the boiler in this place are great, both for the emission of the steam without loss by radiation of heat, as well as the convenient return of the condensed water. The only objection is the danger from explosion. This danger is so small that it may be disregarded. 1st -- That the pressure requisite is small as c ompared with boilers used for other purposes, the pressure of twenty-five pounds per square inch being sufficient--whereas boilers of the kind proposed here are commonly used under pressures of four or five times as much. 2d. -- That if an explosion shou ld occur, which can happen only from carelessness, the injury, if any, would be confined to the room in which the boiler is contained, and at the most to the floor next over head. 3d. -- If the boiler should be placed in a building outside the building, an explosion might, and would probably, occasion quite as much injury as an explosion in the basement. 4th. -- By placing the boiler so low, all the condensed water may be returned by well known and approved apparatus, whereby fuel may be saved, and an a ccident from want of water be rendered almost impossible. This could not be done if the boilers were placed higher than the pipes in the building.
WM. P. PARROTT.
Subscribed and sworn to this 28th day of October, 1858.
TIMO.P. REDFIELD, Master in Chancery.
HON. NORMAN WILLIAMS, OF WOODSTOCK.
I, Norman Williams, of Woodstock, in the country of Windsor and State of Vermont, of lawful age, testify and say, That I was one of the Commissioners appointed by the Governor to prepare a plan for the new Capitol of Vermont, and that since sometime in May last, I have always understood that the boiler for heating the building was to be placed in the basement under the east wing, and that the Superintendent would be justified in putting it there, if, in the opinion of competent men engaged in the busin ess of steam heating, that should be the place for it.
I further say that it was understood in May last, by me, and I suppose, the other Commissioners, that the trusses for the roof, as then framed, for the main building were not to be used, if, in the opinion of the Superintendent, under competent advice, they were deemed insufficient; but were to be made strong beyond a doubt.
Subscribed and sworn to this 30th day of October A.D, 1858.
W. PALMER, Judge of Windsor County Court.
HON. JOHN PORTER, OF HARTFORD.
I, John Porter, of Hartford, in the county of Windsor and State of Vermont, of lawful age, testify and say,--that I was one of the
Commissioners appointed by the Governor to agree upon a plan for the new State House to be erected in Montpelier, and that sometime in May last the Commissioners were together in Montpelier, and that the subject of the sufficiency of the roof-trusses, as then framed, came up; and we were informed by the Superintendent that doubts had been expressed by certain master builders in Boston as to their capability of sustaining the weight that would be required to be placed upon them in the construction of the c upola and dome, and the roof behind the cupola; and that the Commissioners then informed the Superintendent that he would not be justified in putting them on, as they then were; but that he should take measures to add to them such strength by reconstruct ion as would make them of such strength as would remove all doubts as to their sufficiency. I also state that at the meeting aforesaid, I, as one of the Commissioners, understood, and have so understood ever since, that the boiler for heating the buildin g, was to be placed in the cellar under the east wing of the building, if in the opinion of good and experienced judges in such matters, it should be the most suitable place.
I further state that at the aforesaid meeting, after a full hearing of certain differences between the Superintendent and Mr. Silloway, the Commissioners informed Mr. Silloway that no reconciliation of the existing differences was likely to be effected , and I advised Mr. Silloway to leave the work, and he assented to it. I also say that during the interview in May last, there were discrepancies in the statements of the Superintendent and Mr. Silloway in relation to the instructions given by Mr. Sillow ay for making certain window-frames for the cupola, in a curved form, and the Superintendent produced letters from Mr. Silloway which fully sustained the assertions of the Superintendent.
I further state that I have been acquainted with Thomas E. Powers for many years, and I regard him as eminently qualified to discharge the duties of Superintendent of the new State House. I was of that opinion at the time of his appointment to that of fice and I still remain of that opinion.
Montpelier, Nov. 6th, 1858.
Sworn to before me,
PAUL DILLINGHAM, Master in Chancery.
JAMES COLBATH, ESQ., OF MANCHESTER.
I, James Colbath, of Manchester, State of New Hampshire, of lawful age, testify and say, -- That I am one of the firm of Colbath, Richardson & Co., a firm doing business in said Manchester, and in the city of New York, which business is that of steam-h eating, gas piping, &c., and have followed the business for a period of ten years. I further say, the firm of which I am a member, has taken the contract for heating the Vermont Capitol, and that before taking said contract I visited said Capitol and examined carefully the various places in which it was proposed to set the boiler. And I came to
the settled conviction that the only suitable place in which to put it was the basement under the eat wing of the building, and I advised the Superintendent accordingly. He, (the Superintendent,) was anxious to select some other place for it; if one coul d be found, where we could put it, and warrant the success of the work; and he only assented to it when I assured him that there need be no apprehension of danger, and that it was in every respect preferable to any other place about the Capitol grounds. I made a deduction in the price of the work of one hundred and twenty-five dollars in consideration of its being placed in the basement aforesaid. I have no hesitation in expressing the opinion now, that the place selected for the boiler is by far the mo st suitable one in which it can be set. The arrangement of the smoke-pipe is in accordance with my suggestions, and I have do doubt of its success.
> JAMES COLBATH.
Subscribed and sworn to before me at Montpelier, Vermont, this twenty-ninth day of October, A.D. 1858.
GEORGE NICHOLS, Notary Public.
Thus much is a portion of the evidence offered by the Superintendent in justification of the course he had pursued and of the work he had done. And notwithstanding this testimony of six or eight of the most competent men to be found in New Eng land or elsewhere, in relation to the roof-trusses framed by Silloway, yet this astute "majority" say: "your Committee are unable to discover why the first trusses were not suitable," - (quite probable:) "they are decidedly of opinion that t hey should have been tested before they were discarded," (built a suspension bridge of the trusses, we suppose, weighed the dome, and applied a like weight to them! Or, what perhaps would have been better, raised the dome upon them, and got up an artificial hurricane to test them with!) The Committee say, "the master carpenter," who framed them, pronounces them amply sufficient!" And who is this "master carpenter," for whose opinion the "majority" of this Commi ttee seem to entertain so high a respect as to forget the testimony of every body else? This Robert Gunnison (dignified by the Committee as "master carpenter,") was brought here by Silloway for the purpose of having a reliable friend in the camp, when ne cessary; he testified the he never before framed a truss exceeding fifty feet span, and this was seventy feet: and, according to Silloway, eight of them would be required to sustain a weight of "over one hundred tons!"
The trusses being doubted, the Superintendent took counsel of the Commissioners. They advised him to use no trusses of doubtful sufficiency, and to take counsel of practical builders. He did so, and what is the testimony? First, we refer to t he testimony before given of the three practical builders and framers, to whom the Superintendent exhibited them (under the advice of the Commissioners) before they were discarded. And second, to the testimony of Mr. BRYANT, Mr. RANDALL, and Mr. PARROTT, all six of whom know whereof they speak, having had practical knowledge of such things nearly half their lifetimes.
But this Mr. Robert Gunnison, the tool of Silloway, this "master carpenter," who had framed the roofs to a couple of factories and a meeting-house, and who was the only sworn witness to their sufficiency, must be magnified into an importa nt personage by "the majority" of this Committee, and his testimony made to eclipse the sworn opinions of such men as Messrs. BRYANT, SEARS, FITCH, FLANDERS, PARROTT and RANDALL, either of whom stands as much above him in matters of this kin d, as Gunnison stands above the veryest hodcarrier about the work.
It is true that sundry persons simply certified that in their opinions, Silloway's trusses were sufficient for their purposes; but who they were, or where they hailed from, nobody knew. For aught that appeared before the Committee, the names of these persons might have been copied from the tomb-stones in some country grave-yard in Massachusetts, as none of them appeared before any authority to swear to the truth of their statements. The "Master Carpenter" is the only man of co nsequence that could anywhere be found to swear to their sufficiency, and yet this Reverend Prelate and "a majority" of his Committee, who, clothed with a little brief authority, and ready to do the bidding of the clique who made them, s aw no good reason why they should not endorse them as suitable!!
"Oh, most lame and impotent conclusion."
But, Mr. Rounds, of Chester, a member of this Committee, (though not of "the majority,") and a man of brains and of principle, should be placed right before the public. In him, the dictators of this Com-
mittee evidently "mistook their man." He, like an honest legislator, repudiates the report, and declared on the floor of the House some unpalatable truths in the hearing of the little gentleman who had been five weeks dandled on the knees of "the majo rity" for the aid he had rendered in stirring up strife and contention, and putting again in jeopardy the best interests of many who had nursed him into importance only to be betrayed by him.
And next in the catalogue of sins, committed by the Superintendent, the portico columns are mended on their back sides, by the insertion of new pieces of granite; and although this work, as the Committee say, "seems to be all that the most fastidious c ould desire," yet "the majority" are of opinion that they "should have been entirely rebuilt."
If the Committee had been disposed to deal fairly with the Superintendent, why did they not state what was made most palpable to them, viz: that the old columns were pieced, and stood twenty years unnoticed and unknown, until disclosed by the fire? Why not state that one of these pieces was five feet and a half long and twelve inches wide? Why not state that the Commissioners advised the Superintendent to piece them, if, in the opinion of competent architects, the work would be permanent? Why not state that Mr. BRYANT, of Boston, who stands at the very head of professional architects in New England, Mr. RANDALL, of Chicago, Mr. PARROTT, of Boston, and others--all of whom had had long experience and had tested such work, testified before the committee that the work was well done, and done as it should be ? The reader has the testimony of these men before him, and can judge of the fitness and durability of the work as well as those who sat in judgment upon the Superintendent and have chosen to condemn him in the face of the testimony given! But "the a rchitect of 1857," whose especial business in hanging idly about the Capitol in 1858, was fault-finding, though he once favored it, now condemns it, and hence the "Committee are of opinion that they should have been entirely re-built, ev en at an expense of hundreds of dollars."
What need of this piece of deception in the matter of expense?
Why not tell the public honestly, what was shown before them, that the additional cost of new blocks and re-setting the columns would have been at least two thousand dollars? For the best of reasons, that a truth so unpalatable as this, would not have served their one-sided purpose.
But to test the honesty and sincerity of this Mr. Thomas W. Silloway, in his condemnation of this part of the work as to propriety and durability, we here give his opinion upon the propriety of patching up the old building, as deliberately expre ssed in a formal report to a committee of the citizens of Montpelier, just previous to the extra session of the legislature, at a time when he was willing, "after carefully examining the ruins," to use his own language, to make the whole a stupendo us piece of patch-work from bottom to top, rather than risk his chances for a job in the event of a removal. The tottering walls, that threatened to tumble in pieces during the most careful process of taking them down, were by his "econ omy intensified" to be tinkered up by "a few days' labor and some 50,000 bricks," and made "as perfect as they were at the time of their construction!!" The sides of the window-openings were to be repaired, by rivetting vertically upon them, h uge slabs of granite, and the portico (columns in particular,) was to be repaired, and no scruples were then entertained by him of the propriety or durability of a piece of patch-work that must have been unrivaled in the history of public structure s, and more dangerous to human life than all the steam-boilers that could have been crowded beneath or within the building. But to his report as evidence of what we say: ----
"The Brick Walls are, as a whole, in good condition; but few defects are discerned. The absence of water while they were in a heated condition, has permitted them to retain their original compactness and strength. They appear to be securely at tached to the stone. But a few days' labor and some 50,000 bricks will be required to make them as perfect as they were at the time of their construction.
"The Stone Work of all the walls is, as a general thing, in good condition. The amount of combustible material being small, and the brick-working shielding them from the action of the fire, they were not materially injured. The parts which wer e exposed to the openings of some of the windows, are badly damaged, but are susceptible of
REPAIRS, which will make the work as good as when new. The part of the work about the portico, is much injured and will demand extensive REPAIRS; nothing however exists which may not, by careful management and a proper outlay, be rebuilt, and made equal to its original state.
"The remainder of the building is entirely destroyed. After a somewhat extended consideration of the matter, I have decided that the sum of $45,785 will make the building as good as when new, and unless some at present unknown defect shall exis t, I see not why the repairs may not be made for this sum."
Here then was to have been a pile of patch-work, under the less offensive name of "repairs," on a grand scale; such as would have put all the present mending of columns into a shade as dark as night; and all "made equal to its original state!" And now, forsooth, the indignation of all Christendom is to be stirred against the Superintendent for what he has done under the advice of the Chairman of the board of Commissioners, and of several of the most competent architects and others, by way of "repairs" to the present columns, and that too, by the man who in 1857 could look upon patches without shuddering; and though piled one upon another in thick array from bottom to top, would "make the work as good as new!!" Further comment i s needless here.
Of the location of the boiler for heating the building, (with which "the majority" of the Committee are disposed to find fault,) we have before briefly spoken; and will only add here, that the Superintendent held a special consultation of this subject with the Chairman of the board of Commissioners in August last, and after informing him of the opinion expressed by the gentleman who afterwards contracted for the work, he not only consented but advised to the arrangement, and testified to nearly the same thing before the Committee. This circumstance, together with the important fact that the other two Commissioners counselled it, "if, in the opinion of good and experienced judges in such matters, it [the basement] should be the most suita ble place" for its location, ought to satisfy every fair mind that the Superintendent had no alternative left him, when the testimony on this point of such experienced men as Messrs. BRYANT, COLBATH, PARROTT and RANDALL is considered in connection with that of the two Commissioners whose affidavits are here published.
If, therefore, the foolish fears of any timid souls have been needlessly excited by visions of bursting boilers, falling structures, and "man-
gled remains," consequent upon the silly pratings of brainless editors and mischief-making demagogues,--or if the exquisite tastes of certain exquisite gentlemen in upper-ten-dom, who blush to look their tailors and their landlords in the face, and who ne ver contribute a farthing to the public treasury without increasing their chances for the poor-house, have been offended by the "unsightly chimney" in the rear, we refer them to the facts testified to on these points, and doubt not, that in their magnanim ity, they will give to the Superintendent a "card of clearance," and charge the unfortunate occasion of their inconsolable griefs to the account of those who are responsible for it.
Of the stairs and stair-cases enough has already been said, if perfect safety to the building from fire in the construction of them, combined with true economy in the expenditure of the people's money are to be regarded as ends worthy to be accomplishe d. If, however, the pride of opinion, and a contemptible spirit of fault-finding on the part of certain ill-natured and disappointed meddlers, are virtues to be catered to, then we leave that job with "the majority" of this Committee, who have shown such a happy tact at doing such very commendable service.
The Committee found it difficult to meet the full expectations of their wire-pullers, in their tirade against the Superintendent, without closing with a direct thrust at his competency. In spite of the fulsome flattery with which the last parag raph of their report abounds, about their "high regard for his integrity and indomitable energy" and "his efforts for the best interests of the State,"--the cloven foot is still unconcealed, and furnishes indubitable evidence of the kind of men the Superi ntendent had to deal with, and with whom censure for his acts was a "foregone conclusion." It was but a prelude to the farce which soon followed, and which won for the brows of "the majority," laurels of such imperishable honors!
As a counterpoise to this intimation, if not direct charge, of incompetency, we here insert several of the affidavits which were used before the Committee on this point; simply observing that they are from men well known in the community, and wh o have long been intimate with the Superintendent, and thoroughly conversant with whatever of skill and ability he may possess for the post he occupies,
and quite as well prepared to judge of his competency as "a majority" of a committee with bitterness in their bosoms festering against him. The affidavits are voluntary offerings, and hence the more agreeable to his feelings, and none the l ess effective in parrying this gratuitous and uncalled for blow to the Committee.
HON. JAMES BARRETT, OF WOODSTOCK
I, James Barrett, of Woodstock, in the county of Windsor and State of Vermont, depose -- That I have been acquainted with Dr. Thos. E. Powers for the last 19 years, having been resident in the same village with him, excepting for a year and a half in 1 848 and 1849. He was, during my acquaintance with him, till he entered upon his present office of Superintendent, a practicing physician, and concurrently was actively participating in the various interests and enterprizes of the village, town, country a nd state. In 1854, the Court House, located in said town was burned, and it became necessary to erect a new one, which was done at an expense of about $14,000, as I have been informed and believe. Dr. Powers was appointed by the Judges of the County Cou rt to superintend the erection and finishing of that new Court House, and he did superintend, manage and control the same throughout. I was conversant with the current progress of that business, and with his participation in it. I have known him also, i n his connection with various enterprises of public as well as private interest and importance, and particularly as selectman, lister, and town agent. As selectman he had the superintendence of the construction of one or more of the principal bridges ove r the Quechee River which passes through said town and village, and particularly of one of the bridges in said village.
In all these positions he has manifested energy, capacity and competency equal to all requirements.
In his superintendency of the Court House and bridges, I think he is regarded as having shown judicious thoroughness on the one hand, and rigid economy on the other.
I think the general judgment of the community in which he has spent his life is that he is trustworthy and competent in all leading and essential particulars for the superintendency of the rebuilding of the State House, I know of no one in the State, w hom I regard more nearly adequate to the proper performance of the duties of the position.
At Montpelier, this 25th day of October, A.D. 1858, personally appeared James Barrett, and made oath that the foregoing deposition by him subscribed is true.
CHARLES REED, Justice of Peace.
Washington Co., ss.
STATE OF VERMONT
HON. JACOB COLLAMER, OF WOODSTOCK.
Thomas E. Powers superintended the erection of one church in Woodstock, and from the manner in which that, and other public works had been performed under his care, he was, by my approbation, appointed by the Judges of Windsor County in 1854 to superin tend the erection of a new Court House and town hall in Woodstock. That work was commenced and completed under his care and direction in a most thorough and satisfactory manner both as to expense and perfectness, agreeable to plans of Architect Silloway. From his course in that business, and from my personal knowledge of the man, I regard him as fully and eminently qualified to the place he now occupies as Superintendent of the rebuilding of the State House. I feel great confidence that the public inte rest will not suffer in the contracts and operations under his care in that service, and I believe such to be the general opinion of the people in this vicinity.
Woodstock, Nov. 4, 1858.
Sworn to before me,
OVID THOMPSON, Justice of Peace.
STATE OF VERMONT,Windsor Co., ss.
LYNDON A. MARSH, ESQ., OF WOODSTOCK
Judge Collamer has expressed my sentiments in better terms than I can do myself; and I will add, that I have often thought that if I had occasion to erect a mansion myself, to combine the elements of durability, taste, convenience and economy, I know o f no person whom I should sooner select to superintend such a work, than Thomas E. Powers.
LYNDON A. MARSH
Woodstock, Nov. 5, 1858.
Sworn to before,
JOHN S. MARCY, Master in Chancery.
STATE OF VERMONT
Windsor Co., ss.
HIS EXCELLENCY, RYLAND FLETCHER, OF CAVENDISH.
I, Ryland Fletcher, of Cavendish, in the county of Windsor and State of Vermont, depose and say. -- That from the unqualified recommendations of numerous gentlemen whose opinions were entitled to great deference and respect, and from my personal knowle dge, I appointed the Hon. Thomas E. Powers to superintend the construction of the State House. I have been at Montpelier several times during the work of taking down the old building and erecting the new one; and have ever found the Superintendent execut ing his trust with great faithfulness and diligence. Unlike many at the present day who are entrusted with the care of a public work--he was devoting himself assiduously to the prosecution of the work. From the examinations I made, and from consu ltations with Doct. Powers I was convinced that he was efficiently discharging his duties,--that he was practicing that wise economy that has references not only to immediate, but to ultimate results. I was satisfied, that he was well
adapted to the position he occupied. I was consulted in regard to repairing the portico columns, from what I had learned of the manner in which it could be done, I was decidedly of the opinion that that was the most advisable course, and one that would be approved by the people of the State. In my judgment Doct. Powers is entitled to great credit for the faithfulness and ability with which he has discharged the complicated and embarassing duties of superintending a great and difficult work.
Proctorsville, Nov. 10, 1858.
Subscribed and sworn to before me,
GEO S. HILL, Notary Public.
HON. AUGUSTUS P. HUNTON, OF BETHEL.
I, Augustus P. Hunton, of Bethel, in the County of Windsor, and State of Vermont, depose and say, that I have been acquainted with Thomas E. Powers for about twenty years.
That whilst the Court House at Woodstock was in the process of construction under his direction, I was several times there and examined the work, and have seen it since it was completed, often. And have seen other works which were erected under his di rection. I consider him eminently qualified to superintend the construction of public buildings. Possessed of great power of mind, quickness of thought and perception, energy and steadiness of purpose, untiring industry, a stern and unwavering integrity , and much practical knowledge of the construction of public works, I thought his appointment by the Governor as superintendent of the construction of the State House a good one, and believe now that it would be difficult to find an equally good man to fi ll the place, and that it is not for the interest of the State to try the experiment.
AUGUSTUS P. HUNTON.
Sworn to before me,
NORMAN WILLIAMS, County Clerk.
HON. NORMAN WILLIAMS, OF WOODSTOCK.
Norman Williams, of Woodstock, in the County of Windsor, and State of Vermont, deposes as follows:
I have been acquainted with Doctor Thomas E. Powers from his youth. I know him to be a man of industry, energy, and perseverance in whatever business he undertakes. He has had the care and oversight of the construction of public buildings in this tow n, and I consider him well qualified for that kind of supervision, and as well qualified as any man of my acquaintance to fulfil the duties of his present position; and at the time of his appointment to that place, it was my opinion, and so far as I heard , the general sentiment, that the Governor could not have made a better selection.
Windsor county, ss. Woodstock, November 5, 1858.
The foregoing affidavit subscribed and sworn to before me,
ELIAKIM JOHNSON, Justice of Peace.
So much, then, for the competency of the Superintendent, or rather for the evidence of it. And though it be not the endorsement of "the majority" of the "Committee on Public Buildings," yet it will without doubt, answer quite as well for all practical purposes.
They are testimonials for which the Superintendent acknowledges himself very grateful, but are given in no spirit of vain boasting, nor are they given with any belief that they are required as an offset to the thrust of the Committee, in order to maint ain his reputation in the vicinity of his acquaintance,--yet they may be necessary to follow this report of "the majority" into localities where he is less known, as an antidote to its poison.
As to "the Architect," the well-bred little gentleman who can descant so flippantly when the spirit moves him, upon "the utter wickedness of orthodox church members," and can so devoutly express his gratitude in a legislative prayer-meet ing "for the religious privileges he enjoys while stopping in Montpelier," the Committee find his conduct "stamped generally with skill, integrity, and unselfish devotion to the work in hand," and we suppose guilty of a whole catalogue of other vir tues. This is precisely what they say in a document that may immortalize their names, and precisely what, as a Committee, they were made for, and nothing short of it was expected by those who stood as their sponsors, or by those who knew th eir proclivities. All knew and expected that whitewash was to be copiously applied by these skillful masters in the art, should it become necessary, and that too, with an unsparing hand. It was to be laid on by his Reverence to the vulnera ble points, (should any be found,) in the character of this little embodyment of all the virtues,--this paragon of all the wisdom, who so well knew at the outset that his Committee were all right,--without stint or discretion; and, if need be, with little regard or reference to the testimony or to the truth! In this fulsome praise, perhaps with Falstaff,
"His Grace says that which his flesh rebels against."
But be that as it may, we have no disposition to deprive this disappointed architect,-- this object of the Committee's peculiar favor, who has run so severe a gauntlet for fame, of the poor
comfort which he may derive from the thin coating of this cheap commodity which "a majority" of this Committee found ingenuity enough to prepare and so skillfully apply, even at the expense of those obsolete virtues, justice, fairness, and impartiality. But the end of this Jesuitical farce was not fully reached with the end of this very elaborate report. The denouement was yet to come; and in it the Superintendent was to lose his head, or the S tar Chamber its power. The mountain labored, but the mouse was yet to be born. This exceeding small remnant of "assembled wisdom" was at length in second travail, and something tangible must come of it, or the severe toils and exertions of these guardians of public interests and of private animosities, must end in the mortification usual to great public benefactors, when, for the sacrifices they make in their labors of love, they receive as their only reward, their labor for their pains. To cap the climax of their willingness to aid the especial friends of bad rum in the decapitation of one, whose besetting sin after all, in this case, was his resolute refusal to squander the money of the State in cowardly buying his peace with the hungry cormorants that swarmed about the Capitol, demanding gold as the price of their friendship; and as an appropriate consummation of a five week labor, "the majority" of the Committee submitted the following bill as an amendment, or rather substitute for one referred to them, and recommended its passage: ----
AN ACT IN ADDITION TO AN ACT ENTITLED "AN ACT TO PROVIDE FOR REBUILDING THE STATE HOUSE."
Sec. 1. It is hereby made the duty of the Governor to appoint three suitable persons, one of whom shall be an architect duly qualified, to superintend the completion of the State House, and to provide such additional furniture as may be require d to furnish the same; and said persons, when appointed, shall supersede the Committee heretofore appointed, under the third section of the act to which this is in addition, whose duty it shall be to receive all moneys which may hereafter be appropriated for the rebuilding of said house, and to perform all the duties incumbent on said Committee by the act aforesaid.
Sec. 2 The persons who may appointed under this act, shall before entering upon the discharge of the duties of their appointment, give good and sufficient bonds, as required by the third section of the act to which this is in addition.
Here, then, we have the grand consummation of a five weeks' labor of this conglomeration of wisdom, in committee,--and it only awaited the favorable action of the House and Senate, at a propitious moment, to answer the full expectations of the < I>rumocracy present, both in-doors and out, who stood panting for the empty shoes of the obnoxious personage that had so long been the object of their unalloyed hatred. Like the tiger in the jungle, they had long noiselessly watched their intended vi ctim, and now fancied that they could almost see his flesh quivering in their grasp.
It was most evidently intended by the concoctors of the scheme as the grave of the Superintendent, and the resurrection of "the Architect," to say nothing of its kind intentions towards anybody else who expected to float to the surface b y its passage. Like a trump card played at an unlucky moment, it not only lost the trick but determined the game.
Clerical influence, always so potent in the pulpit, was nevertheless powerless for ultimate mischief here. The free commingling of certain Divines with men of questionable habits, (to say the least,) for the accomplishment of a common purpose s o much desired by both, though stimulated by different motives, was ludicrous beyond a parallel in the history of legislative curiosities. The object to be gained was patent to all, and so were the inducements which sought to effect it. The bubble never theless, was sure to burst, and those who had spent so much time in inflating it, were destined soon to see how quick the "wisdom and virtue" of the State would make a wreck of their hopes.The tender little plant, however, for whose sorrows "the ma jority" of the Committee had manifested such deep compassion, and to assuage with this panacea was so mercifully offered, could see in it, for a moment, bright visions for the future, as "an architect duly qualified," and was for a brief per iod exultingly jubilant at the prospect of success which threatened to "thrust greatness upon him!" But after all, the thing proved an abortion, and the elated spirits of the "architect duly qualified," suddenly received a chill, as with a wet bla nket, that required an emolument of five hundred dollars from the treasury of the State to alleviate his sufferings and his mortification.
The House saw through the transparent cheat, and summarily dismissed this precocious bantling of a second travail, "without the benefit of clergy." And thus ended the five weeks travail of the Reverend Franklin W. Olmstead and his bedfellows, and the cares, anxieties and hopes of reinstatement of the Reverend Thomas W. Silloway, architect, who, with commendable dispatch gathered up his attered prospects of success as best he could, and, with much philosophy as, under the ci rcumstances he was master of, "returned to his wallow," and
"Order again reigns in Warsaw!"
It may perhaps be proper here to remark that the Superintendent was charged by his unscrupulous accusers of a gross dereliction of duty in not following the instructions of the Commissioners, in relation to the removal of the hill, in the rear of the C apitol, to the depth of eighteen feet back, and through the entire length of the Capitol grounds. It was shown before the Committee, by the testimony of a competent engineer who had carefully surveyed it, that it would involve the necessity of removing three thousand cubic yards of rock, at an expense of six thousand dollars, and leave a perpendicular cut in some places of twenty-three feet in height! As this would accomplish no valuable purpose if done, this Committee even, were u nwilling to add to their folly by censuring the Superintendent for the omission of it.
Another very grave charge made, was the use of burnt or damaged stone in the reconstruction of the building; but the evidence sustained no such accusation, and the report is silent on this point also. Had such a charge here been true, or had t here been the slightest evidence to sustain it, it would have formed a prominent feature in the report; and the Superintendent would most assuredly have come in for an additional phial of the Committee's undiluted displeasure. The charge was most malicio usly false, like many others, and the people of Vermont need have no fears that their Capitol is, or will be constructed of any improper or unsuitable material.
The iron beams which form a part of the flooring to the Representatives' Hall, were at one time the object of the discarded architect's most anxious solicitude; but it was conclusively proved that they were in all respects in exact accordance with his written directions, (which he seemed to have forgotten,) and thereupon the matter was suddenly dropped.
AN EXPERIMENT AND ITS CONSEQUENCES.
The terrible disaster which recently befell the new Arsenal in the city of New York, should serve as an effectual warning to all advocates of "new principles" and untried experiments in roof-framing. It happened on the morning of the 18th of No vember, 1858, at a time when the Reverend Franklin W. Olmstead and his "majority" were striving so hard to shut their eyes to the testimony of Messrs. SEARS, FITCH, FLANDERS, BRYANT, PARROTTt, and RANDALL, as to the sufficiency of the roof-t russes as originally designed and framed for the new Capital, and severely taxing their ingenuity to "discover NO reason why they were not suitable!"
It is an occurrence in the history of modern experiments in carpentry, that should admonish men of candid minds to be sparing in their censure of the Superintendent, for the caution he exercised, and which led him to the reconstruction of the roof-fram ing of the building under his charge. It is a calamity, however, which doubtless has no terrors for men who choose to close their eyes to the plainest truths, and recklessly defy the opinions of men deeply skilled in matters of the kind;--for it is a not orious truth, that
"Fools rush in where Angels fear to tread!"
A correspondent of the Boston Journal on the twenty-second of November last, (1858,) thus writes from New York:
"The fall of the new Arsenal, on 7th Avenue, must be regarded as providential. It fell at one o'clock on Friday morning, the day after Thanksgiving. Had that immense roof fallen in the daytime, great numbers must have been hurt. Had it stood one wee k more, till evacuation day, then the crash would have been awful. The building was so far completed that the military of New York were to meet in it on the day of their great display, which is on the 25th of November, the day that the British left our c ity, to the great comfort of the Knickerbockers. With the tendency to fall which the building then had, it must have come down on the devoted heads of the New York soldiers, and the calamity would have been dreaded. It has long been the opinion of build ers, and it has been freely expressed, that the timbers used in the construction of the roof, were not strong enough to hold up such a roof, and slated at that. But the answer was that A NEW PRINCIPLE had been introduced, and a trial of the new inv ention was thus to be made, and it has been tried, and the result is before the world; but who shall pay the cost causes a delicate question in law. If the contractor agreed to build the edifice 'according to plans and specification,' and has done so, is he liable? And if the architect has made an error, and is not pecuniarily responsible for the damage he has done, will not the State pocket the loss?