Letter from THOMAS WILLIAM SILLOWAY to GEORGE PERKINS MARSH, dated August 25, 1858.
My Friend Marsh. Your letter of the 26 inst is received. I am glad to hear
that it has been discovered by Richards & Powers, that my figures . I
informed you in one or more of my letters, that my ordinates might not be
right, as I had not struck the thing out full size, and in
the last drawing I sent you, (not spoken of in your letter) I made a little lee way
for them. Had I been striking it out I should have used the 22' radius and let the
ordinates go, but it matters not, if they will give me the 19'6" outside, and the
40' diameter when These be got with any radius from
20' to 25' The curve would vary, but the and might
be made the same. The 22'2" radius is right . Now by following the
finish drawings by they cannot get off the track. All
the trouble made might have been avoided, had they followed the not
one has been amended. When I think of the dome they had struck out on the floor,
to be used, full 3' flatter than mine I think I can never be duly thankfull, that I threw myself into the gap, and found in you one able, and sucessfull, in defending the right. It only needed words of condemnation from you in relation to , and the impossibilities of working from my drawings would have been , & the new dome struck out and built. This last triumph, encourages me to continue my interest for the building. I shall go up Tuesday, and stay till Friday. When I sent you the last drawings, the night before you meeting, I sent a sketch of St. Pauls If I mistake not, I said the radius there was 104' The book is an old one and some worn. I am now inclined to think the whole dome is 104', finished it is 112' . You will gather from my letter sent with the drawings named, my reasons for using the curves I did. If you are not already clear on the things written in that letter, please look it over. I would have you weigh well all I say in regard to perspective effect, and how that the base moulding, and attic, will in a degree lend an appearance of hight
to the dome as a . The principal thing we needed to guard against was anything like on the top. We need to have the curve so that from any, and all, points of observation, we see the whole of the sweep up to the balustrade. I once wrote you that in the , the attic will be confounded with the dome, and all, from the top of the cornice, will look like a "Sta Marie" dome, but that the near view will show the members all full, and remove the ill effect of so huge a thing, on a severe Greek building, as a dome would be, if realy, as large as the distant view would make appear. In designing the whole, even to the details of finish, I have tried to keep in view all these considerations. I can never express the satisfaction I feel in anticipating an adherence to the original. The parts were designed so as to produce each an effect of their own which when viewed apart, would look right, and as a whole, would be in harmony. A variation of any moment would disturb the whole. I will now believe that with what aid I can render the Master Carpenter, all will come out right. You
ask for information in regard to the finish. I will send with this the sketch you request. It is difficult to explain things of the kind by writing. This very fact, was one of the greatest evils I had to contend with last year with Powers. I cannot discuss why Richards should even intimate that he has the least difficulty in getting 19'6" It is a fact, that we can get anything from 18' to 22' advancing by one quarter of an in. With that simple I will leave the point. I wish you to read the following with care. Every part of that dome from the coppering of the roof, up to the curve of the dome, is drawn on paper, and all the sections shaded . The drawings were finished eight months ago. All the work has been got out by them, and six months ago was ready to put up. In addition to the full size drawing all are . Now they have only to put the circular curbs on outside of the octagonal framing already there, and then begin at the coppering, and build up the 12 sided pedestal--next, the sheathed drum for the columns,--, the entablature,--next the attic, then, the moulding at the dome base, and after this , the dome itself 19'6" high, and finaly, crown all with the balustrade. Now as the hights are all marked, no sort of difficulty exists in having any hight we please for the curved part. I imagine you are some troubled in regard to this 19'6" idea, to see how I get it so . The balustrade cuts down onto it some, and thus truncates it. I have promised to make you a but candidly, I know not what to make you. Before I go any further I must ask if you are in possession of a copy of my section of the whole thing (vertical) from top to bottom? If you are not, and desire it, I will make one and send it. You shall have a rough sketch to-day. I do not by making a part diminish the diameter of the curved part. You may have got a wrong impression of what I meant by "ribs" I may have used the term to signify the rough planks over which the [...] is to be nailed. Your letter of a day or two ago was received.
T. W. Silloway
References in this letter:
Joseph R. Richards was the architect who replaced Thomas W. Silloway in early 1858, when Silloway resigned from the position.
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.
Gunnison was the master carpenter of the rebuilding project between 1857 and 1860.
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.