Letter from THOMAS WILLIAM SILLOWAY to GEORGE PERKINS MARSH, dated April 13, 1858.
Mr. Marsh, My Dear Sir your letter of yesterday is recd. I am pleased to learn that
you retain a sufficient interest in our work to be willing to aid amp;c. As things
are you will of course have hard and undesirable work to do but can do it if you
so to do. I am pretty helpless just now except as I shine in
light borrowed from Powers and . I can keep
the workmen in work that go right if I can not get them to begin
other. All the mistakes are of a kind that can and will be remedied. I
doubt not but the men are even now at work amending. Powers would not give in that
he was wrong, still he suggested to the workmen while I was there, that he intended
to do and intimating that it was his idea. I think I know
everything already done that is not as it should be, and can easily remedy
as soon as I can manage the men. The old stones
would never go in again. He sees the folly of it and I think not use them although much has been expended on them to [...] them up. On any of these things he never consulted me in the least and not having the privilege of going to M. (except on my own expense) I know not of it. One or two other things he spoke of after he had made arrangements to have them his own way and knowing my lack of power (all being as he said reposed in him) I submitted nothing however but the columns lengthening have I in the least approved that I now regret. These are and have been in a state where they can be made precisely as they were first designed. They have not been made up. I told the master carpenter ago not to put them together till he had direct and absolute orders from me. I will see to it that nothing be done but what was at first and originally designed. I have turned to his letters and will copy for you a part of one of them What called out the remark I do not just now know as I have not had time to look into it. What I quote is in the form of a post serif to a letter from him dated
Nov 25.. '57 which as you will see was at a late day. It is verbatim amp;c. amp;c. as follows "P.S you say the drum & columns have been made to suit the notions of Mr. Marsh. I have great respect for his judgement & good taste, but if the columns are made as they are represented, he & every body else that knows anything of , will see that they are too short, or I will acknowledge that am mistaken -- As they are in the perspective, they give the thing a similar appearance to a man with his hat drawn a little down over his eyes " I have quoted . In some other letters he talked the thing over and as he had as I thought to amend them (having authority to do it.) I could do no less than permit him to go on and get out the staves for the shaft but not put them together. All can be remedied. I have on file every letter he has ever written me and can fortify the idea that when I have submitted to an amendment it has been because and not me had authority. The thing should never have been committed to him and unless I can be free to superintend that construction I will urge an acceptance of my resignation. As I have repeatedly said nothing
of moment has yet been done that cannot easily be amended. I held my office by appointment through and under him, and he having power to criticise and amendments if he [...] I was compelled to comply or get my discharge. For half the year by visits amp;c. He got along comparatively well, but as soon as my personal attention was not there all went wrong, till I took a stand at the risk of incurring displeasure on his part and a discharge from further service. You know my method of procedure in broaching the subject to him and the treatment I have received at his hands. Now I know the work and mean to maintain my ground to the last Powers or no Powers. Give me my proper place and no fears need be entertained of a good ending. We must understand each other well and at all times know we are working. The workmen to a man are disgusted with him and are praying for one able to give them proper advice. Whoever has his place must be simply the general superintendent of the part and not the constructor or architect. Let the commissioners be the criticisers of the amp;c. for each part. The architect and constructing supt. be answerable to them, and the business superintendent to the . No man should hold the latter office who has a full grown passion for using the thing he can get for the simple reason that it is nor in whom is developed an inveterate desire to assume thing entirely out of his line of business. when any arrangement is made with either him or another I want it understood that I am architect and constructor, answerable alone to the commissioners. That I shall be provided with first class workmen and the best quality of stock to work, with entire freedom to exercise my own judgment under the Commissioners. I wish it could so be that you could attend to the financial part of the work. If you cannot and any new man comes in, select a man of liberal ideas, and one desirous of doing for the state what all will approve when our work is complete. I shall write to the Master Carpenter to-day. He corresponds with me and all things are going on well. I shall be there early next week. Please keep me advised c.
Yours T. W. Silloway
121 Court St.
References in this letter:
Dr. Thomas E. Powers, (1808-1876), of Woodstock, Vermont, was appointed by Governor Fletcher to be the Superintendent of Construction of the 1858-1860 project, to build a new State House in Montpelier to rebuild the structure burned in 1857. He and the architect, Thomas W. Silloway, were soon at loggerheads over their roles in the project. Powers became State Senator in 1861.
Governor Fletcher named three commissioners to oversee the construction of a new State House in Montpelier: Norman Williams, John Porter, and George Perkins Marsh. Dr. Thomas E. Powers was named the Superintendent of 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.