Letter from THOMAS WILLIAM SILLOWAY, 1828-1910 to GEORGE PERKINS MARSH, dated April 1, 1858.
I wrote you a letter a few days ago intimating facts in regard to the work to be done
at Montpelier. I retained the letter for sometime after it was written thinking the doctor would come to Boston and that instead of the letter
written, I could send to you such documents relating to the as you
had proposed and requested. He did not come and anticipating that you might think my
not writing was in consequence of neglect on my part I sent the letter although
bearing an . I have not seen him yet and hence am unable to furnish
you with the specifications. As your report to the superintendent was comprised in
part of a specification to be written by nothing of course will be done
by him till he has my writings. I
do not think he will venture to make any bargain for the statue till he has a proper and entire report from the Com. which will not be till I have sent him the specification proposed. This I shall withold untill other matters are adjusted. Mr. Mead, will if I have any influence in the matter have the statue to make. I took decided ground and so advised the doctor, which was to inform you that the money was at your disposal. we shall have thinks definitely arranged, and I do hope . I am not yet prepared to say anything more than I have already said in relation to what is in my opinion necessary to be done at Montpelier. If I can succeed in making what shall seem to me to be proper arrangements with him I shall content myself with simply informing you of the . If I cannot do this I shall give you in full a statement of affairs. I write you this letter as a confidential affair. I know of no more
proper course to pursue at the present moment. I beg leave to ask you a few questions, which I hope you will feel justified in answering. Taking the ground I did as we proposed in relation to the statue (when we were at the Tremont) also in relation to other things of like nature I find I cannot act to any purpose unless I act . I will put my interrogations in an abbreviated form for the sake of directness and brevity. Did, or did not, the and of the commissioners entirely cease when they make their report last April? Was it a fact or not, that inasmuch as they only filed a of the drawings their work did not end, nor authority cease, but that their report a continuance of authority till all the were done, and the building completed? Has any act, empowered the superintendent to make or have made such working drawings (in design and style) as he pleases, and no one outside of him to criticize? Do not the commissioners still hold authority to act for all the work of the interior as much as they ever did for the simple elevations & plans?
(I know not that doubts this) If it should so happen that the one having charge of the work should (from ignorance of what should be done or otherwise) fail to produce the thing as it should be have the commissioners any power to interfere? Should the carpenter, the principal contractor and finaly each leading workman on the building declare that actual and direct advice from the was absolutely essential to enable them to do their work, and should the superintendent utterly refuse to furnish them with information except such as he gives at second hand together perhaps with visits of the Architect. Is there any power to reach the case, or must the work be done as the superintendent says? I ask these question for information and that alone. Please give me your opinion confidentialy and I will thank you. Things are at a point where I have the proper information or we all shall suffer. I am in hopes that I shall succeed in arranging things without trouble. If I can not I shall retire from the work, and abide the consequences. Please say nothing to the doctor lest he be disposed to think me seeking advice .
I am yours very trulyThomas W. Silloway
121 Court St.
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.
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.
Tremont House, Boston.
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.