Letter from THOMAS WILLIAM SILLOWAY to GEORGE PERKINS MARSH, dated July 9, 1857.
My Dear Sir. A letter from our friend Mr. Williams of
Woodstock informs me of the action of the Commissioners in
regard to the perspective. I am pleased to learn that we are to have a picture of
our building as it . The thought is than a good one
that something must be done to counteract the bad influence of the wood cut "put
out" by Walton. The picture in his book is capable of doing
us all much injury for it "lieth" Walton did his best to get a worthy picture. He
gave the man his price ($75. for the two wood cuts) and left nothing undone which
seemed to be needed to produce a good thing I called on the engraver when the thing
had been drawn on the block and was finished ready to cut. I told him the
was well enough but all of the dome part was entirely wrong. I
even went so far as to mark out for him on the block the amendments that were
needed. The was and much too small in diameter. He
admitted the mistake, acknowledged the disagreement with even the lithograph and
promised to amend it. You may depend I was chagrined when I saw while I was at M.
the last time, the picture, printed, and bound up in the book. Made with all the
errors. I asked how many were printed he said enough for the book and that all were bound up. Nothing could be done and there the matter ended. I am sorry for Walton for he did all he could to have it right. Mr. W. says the new picture must be made. I have written to him for the drawings cc. cc. and also to the Dept. Now there is another thing to be done before the picture can be made we must make such amendments to the dome as is needed. I have considered the matter for a long time and before I made any of my framing drawings decided to make the die or drum about 3 ft more in diameter retaining the same height. I roughly drew the thing out on one of the small lithographs and I will send you with this the drawing that in the main suit me best. Of course it is only a and rough at that. Please return it when you have considered it fully. One thing will need to be remembered, and that is that all our finish will be bold and each part brought out as prominent as the kind of architecture will warrant me in doing. Another thing you must consider also and that is this. The whole thing will be very much lower in appearance when executed, for everything in the picture is on a level with the eye. In the building all will be (in effect) cut down. Every projection will lower the member above it. I
have with much care calculated the loss in high of the several parts in these particulars and proportioned my work accordingly. The executed work would in all probability show as much difference from the sketch I send you to-day, as this shows different from the same before it was amended. You will need to make all criticisms by result of the figures, rather then by looks of a drawing at 1/16in. Scale. The large perspective is better, but as I always have said needs amending In the new drawing we should have the scale made as it would look when completed, rather then as it necessarily appears in elevation. One thing more, We remember that we are dealing with Grecian Architecture. Please consider the matter and give me your opinion. All you say in the premises shall have due consideration. I can only add in this place that I am tied hand and foot to the work below and all I do must agree as much as possible with that respectably classic portico. Any thing approaching the Roman I must scrupulously avoid. My aim in working out the details of the dome and the work beneath it will be to produce a gracefull and somewhat substantial effect rather than anything that is gorgeous and showay. Any extensive curves are to be avoided.
I am yours trulyThomas W. Silloway121 Court St.
References in this letter:
Norman Williams, (1791-1868) was a State Senator in 1854 and 1855 before he was named by Governor Fletcher, to the committee which oversaw the construction of the new State House in Montpelier, to replace the building destroyed by fire in 1857.
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.
Eliakim Persons Walton, (1812-1890) was an editor, journalist, and publisher. In 1853, he became the sole proprietor of the Vermont Watchman and State Gazetteer. He was the editor of Walton's Register, as well as a member of the Vermont Legislature in 1853. He was also the president of the Vermont Historical Society from 1876-1890, as well as a member of the Board of Trustees of the University of Vermont and State Agricultural College in 1875-1887.
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.