Letter from THOMAS WILLIAM SILLOWAY to GEORGE PERKINS MARSH, dated October 10, 1857.
My Good Friend Marsh your letter of yesterday is received and I will pen you a few
lines in reply. I have mainly to do with the windows of the dome. I am
exceedingly Glad to read that you are not tenacious to object to the lozenge
windows. I have examined many works and am confident that the Erechtheum [...] have
and not simple perforated panels. All the drawings I have
examined [unmistakably] show actual recessed openings and the most of them show a
lozenge shaped grating We are unanimous on the fact that the lozenge shape was used
for the grating. At any rate as much so as we are of many other things in regard to
Greek [...] as that he takes for granted I will not now [enumerate] as you know
there are many things we call conjectural and it may be highly probable, so much so
that we in most instances should use the conjectural as quick as the actual, unless
some serious objection presented itself. First, I know of no picture of the
Erechtheum that does not (if it shows window) [...] the lozenge
lattice. This is universal, now the only question is were actual windows used? I
will quote you a few words from James Fergusson M.R.I.B.A. The foremost author in matters of the kind He is
the author of "Hand book of Architecture" Also of Palaces of Ninevah and Persepolis
restored. After giving an extended essay on the Method of lighting the
from the giving sections cc. cc. ( copies or tracings of which I can furnish if you wish. He writes (Page 280 of Hand Book). "The Ionic temple of Asia are all too much ruined to enable us to say exactly in what manner and to what extent this mode of lighting was applied to them though there no doubt that the mode was very similar in all its main features. The little temple of Nikà Apteros, and the temple of Ilissus were both too small to require any complicated arrangement of the sort, and the Erecthium was lighted by windows which still remain at the west end, so that we can hardly feel sure that the same expedient was not adopted to at least some extent in Asiatic examples. The latter however is almost the only instance of windows in any European Greek temple, the only other example being in the very exceptional temple at Agrigentum. It is valuable; besides as showing how little the Greeks were bound by rules, or by any fancied laws of symetry". He then goes on to produce this latter idea still further and after an [...] description of the Erectheum he says. "No Gothic architect in his wildest moments could have conceived anything more picturesquely irregular than the whole becomes Indeed there can be no greater mistake than to suppose the Greek architecture was fettered by any fixed laws of formal symetry, each detail; every feature, every object, such as a hall or temple, which would be enriched as one complete and separate whole was perfectly symetrical and regular: but no two buildings--no two apartments--if for different purposes were made to look like one. On the contrary it is quite curious to observe what pains they took to arrange their buildings so as to produce
variety and contrast instead of finality and singleness of effect. Temples when near each other were never placed parallel nor were even the propylaea and adjuncts ever so arranged as to be seen at one and the same time." I might quote much more from this same excellent author but I forbear. I think we may rest assured that actual windows and not panels were used. The only question now existing is whether or not we had better use the Lozenge or square shaped lights. I am aware that the diamond amp;c. has been used largely in the Gothic, still as we follow the Greek so near and the only example of windows we have seem to lean towards the lozenge, and as simple square light I think we should avail ourselves of the thing for is it not one of the things that our Author says the Greeks delighted to indulge in? The variety amp;c of which he speaks. I hope the drawings you have shows the latice work. If they do I think you will not desire to confine me to the square lights. My idea is to make the lozenges a good size to be seen in harmony with the rest of the work and to put the little rosette [ornaments?] on the crossings of the sash. In short make it every way "as we understand it" I am anticipating a good thing Have made all the details of the finish so far (for the dome with my own hands) all are bold and as fully as may be carried out. I have slightly enlarged all the small [...] and projections of the finish to compensate for distance. I have a very fine church
spire [75?] ft high at 5 miles from here It is completely decorated from the ground to the top. And there is not a molding nor a brick that is not entirely visible from the ground to the naked eye. I call that my best work up to now, and having that for a study shall avail myself of the experience there I am anxious to have you see this spire as we [...] it [...]. In regard to the bridge work I send you with this same drawings that you are at liberty to take such tracings of as you may desire for your own benefit. I have at my leisure made them as plates for a work on Carpentry that at some time I hope to publish. Please keep them and the tracings you may make from all outsiders. I have some very fine examples of framing in the big trusses under the dome of the new State House I will loan you them also as soon as I can spare them.
I am yours very trulyThomas W. Silloway
121 Court St.
References in this letter:
James Fergusson, (1808-1886) The Illustrated Handbook of Architecture: being a concise and popular account of the different styles of architecture prevailing in all ages and countries. London: J. Murray, 1855.
Member of the Royal Institute of British Architecture
Nike Apteros or Athena Nike is a small temple on the Acropolis in Athens. Built in the Ionic order c.426 B.C., it is attributed to Callicrates.
The temple of Ilissus is a small Ionic temple located on the banks of the Ilissus in Athens and considered to have been built in the middle of the 5th century B.C.
In ancient Greek architecture, columns were designed in three distinctive styles, known as classical orders: the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian.
Propylaea (plural) are the entrance gateways leading into the sacred enclosure of the temple, or temple precincts.
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.