Letter from THOMAS WILLIAM SILLOWAY to GEORGE PERKINS MARSH, dated June 23, 1858.
Mr. Marsh My Dear Sir. I learn that a project is on foot to have you invited to
Montpelier to endorse a dome that is to be drawn out full size on the Hall over the
depot. Some time ago I informed you, that amendments were proposed by Mr Richards. As near as I can learn, he and Powers are now at it, trying to fix the thing up to suit them. They are
in great trouble to get the thing as they want it. Not content to take my drawings,
and let them be executed they are attempting to alter the sweep or rise. I made this
assertion for the following reasons. 1st. I made with my own hands . 2d, I have it from Head quarters that Richards found fault
with the size and sweep
of the dome as drawn, and 3rd, no necessity existing for any new or different drawings, it must be that they propose or they would use the drawings I have made. Richard struck the whole out as wanted it, Powers did'nt like it. Then he amended it, and it did not suit, finaly his time at M. having expired he took the matter home with him and is to make a new one and go up with it. Now that dome as drawn and approved by you must be built. The working drawings will produce it. So many amendents have been suggested by Powers that some of the figures on the section may be wrong. He had promised me to correct them. The truth is as much as he may pretend to want it like the original he does not mean to have it so else he would do it and that without trouble, for even if he did not use my drawings
Richards or some one else could make new ones to work by. The truth is they intend to ament it, and under the delusive plan of getting your opinion amp;c. they propose to consult you. If you permit them to do anything but follow the perspective and my working drawings, unless they copy them you will be deceived. It is quite possible they may not consult you still that is said to be the project now. If they get any new thing endorsed by you that will open the door for all the amendments they desire. Reports also say that Powers has triumphed over you on the patching of the stone columns. He said he would do it and unless you are decided he will. The people who visit this city from Vermont to a man protest against that botching. Powers has been advised by Richards to reject all my framing of the large dome trusses, new ones are being made. Something more than $100 up to day before yesterday had been expended on the new work for labor alone. These very trusses were considered by eminent master builders
of this city to be of so much value that by actual petition I was induced to publish them as one of the plates of my new book. The master builder, and Mr. Andrews the contractor boath of them are ready to testify before any committee that those rejected are in their opinions much superior in strength to the new ones. No one was consulted but Richards. Now if this is the case, depend upon it the new trusses will not support that heavy dome. Those drawn were made from actual calculation of the strength of timber, the strains exerted amp;c. These builders at M. pronounce the new ones inferior. Am I to be responsible for these things? How easy it would have been (had Powers been a man at all competent for his place he would have done so) to have put one of my trusses together on the ground, block up the ends and then load it with some of those granite blocks if need be till it broke. Hundreds of dollars have been now wasted, by the ignorence of Powers and the unprincipledness of R. whose business it is to get the state into new expenses by rejecting my work. The whole of the outside of that building is my own if I discover that Powers varies in the least I will publish a full statement of his deeds.
I am yours truly Thomas 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.
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.