Letter from THOMAS WILLIAM SILLOWAY to GEORGE PERKINS MARSH, dated October 6, 1858.

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Publication InformationBoston Oct. 6..1858

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Mr Marsh

Yours of the 4th. inst. is received, the sketches contained cc. You remark that you are disappointed to learn that the does not forbid wooden stairs. Had I ever imagined that Powers would have been so rash as to use anything but I would have (if need be) paid for ink at a dollar per drop to write "" He knew as well as any man living, that the Commissioners from the first, meant anything but wood. He talked with me over and over again, in regard to iron for the and I am at a loss to know what influence has been brought to bear upon him. So sure was and well convinced that he would do right that in no instance did I attempt to denote in the the material of even the 1st flights. Of course this was not attempted any more than it was to write on the partitions "brick" and on other facets what they were to be of

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He does not make the 1st. flights of iron because it is written iron over them but because the departure was too patent. He is without excuse. He was in the legislature and heard the whole story told. He was in consultation with me at the time I made up my 2d report. He always meant to have iron, and had I even suggested wood he would have denounced the whole thing. The probable truth is, that Richards could manage wood better than iron, & advised him that way. The stair builder informs me that Richards tells him Powers is not competent at all to do the overseeing of the work and that he R. gets along as best he can. Wood work can be cut, or in most any way made to fit their brick work but iron must be made by actual patterns These incur difficulties in the way of drawings which R in all probability would not readily master. In the case of the wooden stairs he was never sure they were right, (that is his to produce work to fix the place) and hence he gave instructions to the stair builder to get them

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up the best he could but not say anything in regard to them if he could help it. This thing as modus operandi would answer well with wood work where he had but one man to get along with as he the builder would be responsible, and having liberty to vary from the drawings could of course make them as he desired. If iron work be done the case is not so. To many parties must be employed to keep a unity of opinion in case of error in drawings. The pattern maker would not take responsibility of getting up a set of patterns for castings without actual instructions, lest his work when cast from would not come together. However the case may be Power's ignorance alone has got him started in the wrong direction and his mulish nature has since kept him heading the wrong way. He is without excuse. He always talked of iron for the stairs and was ever named except marble. I shall testify under oath that he always expected to use iron till a late day. I also wrote to him a good letter on the subject at an early day, before he made his contract for this wooden trash, and set forth the case in all its bearings. Inspite of commissioners or

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or he went on and made his contract. If he ever attempts to say that he was in ignorance my letter to him shall confound him. I have copies of His letter was to my knowledge lieing on his table his contract was made. When he found that the top of the upper (and I contend superfluous) flight landed within two feet of the boarding of the roof, and the measurements of the stair builder afterwards discovered that they could not be built within 20 feet of the place at which they were drawn and have room for one to stand upright upon them, one would think he then would have staid his hand for a time at least. But there, I have said . I hope the tragic scene will end soon. I am a good deal tired out with it. It has been in the main the support I have had from you that has kept me in courage to keep the run of the work and up to now do as much as I have. I trust you will feel conscious of having rendered the state a good service and that will be your reward.

A tract on the Architecture of New England has been issued by the Historical Society Thinking you may like a copy of it I send one today

Yours 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.

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.

Joseph R. Richards was the architect who replaced Thomas W. Silloway in early 1858, when Silloway resigned from the position.

A tract on the Architecture of New England Nathan Henry Chamberlain. A Paper on New-England Architecture Read before the New-England Historic Genealogical Society, September 4, 1858. (Boston, 1858)

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.