Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Benjamin Henry Latrobe, 13 May 1806

Washington May 13th. 1806


I promised in a letter I wrote to You on Tuesday last to transmit to You by the post of the next day a statement of the progress which might reasonably be expected in the work of the South Wing of the Capitol in the course of the present season. A difficulty had occurred in the course of that day which had induced me to postpone this statement,—the flaws which were discovered in the stone collected on the spot. But there was also another difficulty,—the reluctance & almost absolute refusal of our Workmen to commit themselves to any thing whatsoever. This circumstance, added to the precarious supply of freestone, induced me to satisfy myself as to the means of procuring with absolute certainty the blocks which are deficient, and to acquire a personal knowledge of the actual state of the quarries.—

Mr William Stuart upon whom we have depended for our best stone & the most punctual supply of it, has declined furnished us with any further quantity, and we are now dependant upon Cook & Brent, & Robinson. With tolerable exertion,—such as they have both promised to make we shall, I believe, not be kept back by this disappointment in Stuart’s supply,—and two vessels containing many of our principal blocks have arrived at the Wharf yesterday evening. I venture therefore to submit to you the enclosed statement which,—unless the Season prove more than commonly unfavorable,—will rather be under than over the rate of the progress we shall make.

I am with the highest respect Yours faithfully

B Henry Latrobe

DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.


12 May 1806

Statement of the probable progress of the Work on the South wing of the capitol during the Season of 1806. May 12th. 1806

On the Freestone.
15th. of May, compleat the erection of the Shafts of the internal Pilasters.
20th. set the shaft of the Center south Columns.
31st. compleat the capping course on the East of the [back] Wall.
15 have set all the Capitals on the West Columns.
25th got up the Architrave on the West side
1st. set all the Columns on the Eastside
4th. set the frieze on the West side.
14th. begin to set the Architrave on the East side
1st. set the architrave & frieze all round

During the course of August the turning of the lobby arches will render the progress of the freestone work unequal, but it is highly probable that on the

1st. of Septr. All the freestone work will be finished & be ready to receive the roof.

In the mean time,—on the

1st. of July,—All the sashes & frames of the Office Story will be put in, & the grounds for Plaistering put up.—

10th. The plaisterers will begin to plaister the South West rooms, & proceed regularly thro’ the West range of Apartments.—


1st. The lobby on the West Side will be covered

15th. The Timber of the roof on the West side will be in great forwardness, & some of it upon the roof.

The East lobby will be covered.—

Sept 2d. Begin to set up the ribs of the dome

15th. Begin to cover the dome with Iron.

Octr. 1st. Have the whole roof covered

At this period the actual appearance of the building must determine the sort of finish for this Season which it shall receive. For if on the 1st. of Octr. the roof is covered in, there can be no doubt but that the house of Reps. in congress will hold their Session in their new Hall.

I hope the we may be one month forward or than I have stated. Advertisements for Stone cutters in Baltimore, New York, & Philadelphia are sent forward, & generous wages offered. Of other artisans we have no want.

B Henry Latrobe

Surveyor of the public Bldgs U States.

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