Letter from THOMAS W. SILLOWAY to GEORGE PERKINS MARSH, dated May 3, 1858.
My Friend Marsh,
I received a letter from you on Saturday morning in relation to the meeting of the
Commissioners. As I had written you I presume the
night you heard from me, neither of us have it seems been idle. I
have heard nothing as yet but presume Powers considers
himself to be safe under his vine and fig tree. Richards is
hard at it making drawings for just the part I had left till
I could have some good free conversations with you in regard to we
should finish it. Powers is a nonentity in the matter, and of course ought not to
think of directing the work Probably R is first making sections amp;c. He can get up
a good bill for services of the kind. Last Saturday I had the first report from
and . A man came into my
office and said he had just come from a large lumber yard counting room and a master carpenter informed him that he had just come from Richard's office, and that R was to make new framing drawings amp;c. for a roof for the State House, that the roof I had drawn would not hold . I of course considered report to be just what we shall probably hear from him as he will as is always the case try his best to get authority to reject drawings and make new ones. This will be policy and Powers not being able to tell whether they are good or bad will permit him to re-vamp all and every part as he desires. The more the better as it will be an argument against . They criticised the dome last week and propose to amend . If Richards can make Powers believe that he can better it, you may depend it will
be attempted. If they can get up a story that it would not as I have drawn it, look right when done, they will call themselves warranted in changing the shape. So help me higher powers than if they lay the weight of their fingers on I will publish them to the I look more for a general re-vamping and amendments to all I have done. We be on hand and do our whole duty at the proposed meeting. He has rejected all the bad stones and reformed in may respects but I am discarded. When he rejects, things I have condemned, he endorses me and if he was a man so far he would give me the credit. But he is not and we must treat him as something else. After hearing the report in regard to the framing I felt indignant for I know if I know that that is some of the best work on the building. So good is it that some of our most experienced builders here having seen the drawings of the work urged me to publish it in my proposed book as examples of nice framing
it is now being engraved and I hope will be published in a few weeks. The stereotypeing is done and the work ready to print. I thought it proper to call on Richards and demand of him a cessation of reports of the kind, as it would greatly injure and be of no benefit to him. I called but he was not in. Since that time I have let him alone. I was mortified to see there the Statue made by Mr. Mead. It has fallen into the hand of the Philistines but probably they will not dare do anything towards getting it made. I am glad we kept back the rest of the report. It will not be worth much after it has been there long. At best a thing so small except it be to this one who made it, (if he was to do the work) is of little value. A full line shaded drawing would probably to any one answer as well. If you think they will dare attempt to get it made I would forbid it. They can do without it till September first if necessary. Any time before the scaffolding is taken away from the dome. I was never in better mood to work than , and hope to aid you as best I am able.
Yours truly Thomas W. Silloway
121 Court Street
References in this letter:
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.
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.
Joseph R. Richards was the architect who replaced Thomas W. Silloway in early 1858, when Silloway resigned from the position.
Larkin Goldsmith Mead Jr.(1835-1910) was a sculptor from Brattleboro, Vermont. although he spent most of his life in Florence. He created the statue of Agriculture that crowns the Vermont State House in 1857, and the statue of Ethan Allen in the same building in 1861. He was also responsible for the statue of Allen in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol and for an elaborate memorial to Abraham Lincoln in Springfield, Illinois.
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.