Letter from THOMAS WILLIAM SILLOWAY to GEORGE PERKINS MARSH, dated August 19, 1858.
My Friend Marsh,
Yours of the 16 is reced. I was some surprised to learn by you letter that you had
informed Doct. P. that you thought I ought to explain to any alledged discrepancy in my drawings amp;c. Your advice to me was when we
published the articles that remained as architect amp;c. This position
meditatively taken we have not as yet in the least degree departed from. Powers'
construction of our agreement was, that party could break a
contract. I proposed a resignation of part but he indignantly refused to
accept, then I withdrew the proposition. Has he more than myself, the power to break
the contract when it pleases him? Having consulted authority of the first order, I
the slightest doubt but my position is right, and were it not for the condition of the Montpelier people I would long ere this have tested the thing. Powers has assumed much more than his own interpretations of the contract will warrant him in doing and so will he find it. Assuming the premises to be right do I know in the matter? Had requested me to confer with him you may depend to serve would have given me pleasure and a request of the kind would be in strict accordance with contract, but to pass information into the hands of Richards for the execution of would be anything but contract, unless you as a commissioner had requested it. Mr. Richards finds but little sympathy here among those who knew us both. But one hour before I received his note one of the first Architects of this city advised me to inform him
that if he did not refrain from further reports derogatory to my business he would be held responsible. I took the step I thought best. I courteously give him my reasons for declining to impart information and then wrote to Doct. P. informing him that I was prepared to make any explanations desired, and to give him full sized drawings of the whole dome if he desired it. Have I not been fair with him? He is not anxious to do right. His idea is to simply have his own way and make the thing as desires. I again repeat that I am ready at one day's notice to go to M. and explain any part of the work or make him size drawings. And to that offer he must not take exceptions if he does he alone is responsible. Their great aim was to amend the dome. They did it on the floor and when thwarted in their purposes tried to make out my figuring would not produce it as originaly drawn. It is a well established principle laid down and defended by all Architects
and Engineers, that a man himself understands his own drawings and figures. They are private property, and marks or figures may be true and right to the one who made them but wrong to all others especialy those who interpret them wrong. This question of what they call wrong figuring has nothing to do with the . That is a thing by itself, and any radius but the one I gave you will not produce the right one. I am not sure whether or not I informed you fully in regard to the . I think I said some were for some for finish cc. cc. Perhaps I ought to add that those on the left hand side of my dome section drawing are all for , and with the exception of one item, made in consequence of an amendment to the length of the columns all are right. Any variation from them will disarrange the whole of the finish as "got out" ready for me. Those on the right side are in the main sort of data for my own use some respecting framing some, finish, and some furring. I know them and if I was about my work as I should be all would have been well. The master carpenter understood that my figures were for the purposes I name. Richards, has made already more mistake in figuring then he can get out of my dome [...] all he claims. I hope to be able to do as you would have me. Thus far I have followed as you have proposed.
Yours truly T. W. Silloway
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.
Joseph R. Richards was the architect who replaced Thomas W. Silloway in early 1858, when Silloway resigned from the position.
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.