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    • Latrobe, Benjamin Henry
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I much fear that in performing my duty, and endeavoring to give you all the information possible on the State of the public buildings, I claim an unreasonable portion of your time & attention.—My present letter is on a subject on which I see only one mode of proceeding, and that one , involves a mode of finishing the roof of the North wing on which I solicit your opinion and direction:...
The fall of the arch or Vault of the Court room in the North Wing of the Capitol on Monday last, & the death of Mr. Lenthall who was buried in its ruins, must be known to you through the medium of the National Intelligencer & the Monitor in all its circumstances. Among the multitude of vexations, regrets, & business which this unfortunate event has thrown upon me, I feel extremely mortified...
The several appropriations made at the last session of Congress for the progress of the work on the Public Buildings, have, during the late recess of the Legislature been applied to their specific objects in the manner which I now beg leave to report to You.  1. South Wing of the Capitol In this wing all the wood work & the covering of the Roof have been painted,—the Iron railing of the...
Although I have been in the city a week, an unfortunate accident has prevented my waiting upon you hitherto, a blow which I received upon my head from a brick, falling from the scaffolding of the building. I was stunned & senseless for a short time, & have been since so troubled with giddiness, that till yesterday, I could not see to write,—& have not ventured since the accident beyond the...
In arranging the papers which I brought with me from Washington, I have had the mortification to find the enclosed letter, written immediately before my departure from the city, and intended to have been forwarded by the post of that evening, but which it appears, in the hurry of packing up has slipped into my paper case. I still beg the favor of you to read it, as it contains my reasons for...
We have now struck all the centers & I have employed Laborers to remove all the rubbish from the Ground story of the Capitol. If convenient to you to call when taking your ride at one o’clock, I shall be very happy to wait upon you to show You the Work, & will attend at the Building at that hour. The Men will then be at dinner & not return till two o’clock. With true respect DLC : Papers of...
I was going to send you the enclosed when I received your valuable present of the Camera obscura, accompanied by a note still more valuable. You have conferred upon me nothing but benefits. This additional kindness renders me at a loss how to express what I feel towards you. I cannot do it in words; but the opinion and the regard that prompted this new proof of your sentiments towards me are...
Your favor of the 18th. came to hand this morning, & I feel exceedingly obliged by your early attention to mine of the 13th. I should have been the happiest Man in the United States had you adopted my first instead of my second proposition. But you have not, & I must now pluck up the courage of a Man who marches to meet certain death at the breach, & do my duty without inquiring the result of...
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...
The Board of Directors & Committee of Works of our Company broke up only last night. The Subscribers are in debt to the Company for arrears of Subscriptions 86.000$ & upwards,—a deficiency fatal to any active operations this season. I have therefore been directed to discharge all our hands (about 300) excepting 60, and in this distressing business I have been all day engaged,—& have not yet...
In reply to the letter I have had the honor to receive from you this morning I beg to submit the following estimate & remarks.— Estimate of the prime cost of Stone walling, in Washington, May 1st. 1808. 1./ The price at which we have paid for rough Stone for the last Season at least, (I believe for 3 Years past) is ⅌ perch delivered at the Wharf.— $1.75 It will not be lower this season,...
The storm of yesterday prevented my waiting upon you to state, that having done all the business relative to the accounts & design of the public buildings, which can now be done,—it was my wish to return for a short time to my family, from whom I have for the last 3 months been almost entirely separated.—Your note of to day found me just ready to go off by the mail, and as Mr. Lenthall is with...
Your letter has remained a week unanswered in consequence of my absence, but immediately on my return I wrote (yesterday ) to Philadelphia , desired one of the Carpenter’s pricebooks to be sent to You, which I have no doubt will be done without Loss of time.— I am under the necessity of resigning my situation at the Capitol . The present Commissioner Colonel Lane , has from the first week,...
I herewith transmit to you, a separate Roll containing drawings:—being the plans & sections of the South Wing of the Capitol according to the ideas which I explained to You when I had the favor of seeing you last.—I fear however that these and any other preparations for proceeding with the public Works may be useless,—for by a letter from Mr Lenthall I learn, that the appropriation bill has...
My last letter d. Philadel. July 26th. gave you an account of the measures I had then taken, and was about to take in order to procure the necessary of supply of articles for the Capitol which can only be had to the North ward, & also to engage as many Stonecutters as could be got.—The consequences of my complaint had till then rendered it impossible for me to ride,—but I on the twenty seventh...
I received the letter you did me the favor to write on the subject of the removal of the earth from the president’s house a few days ago, but have been unable to go thither till yesterday, & to consider the state of the ground. The ground proposed in your letter to be removed is comprised in the space I to O. The section below shows the relative situation of the ground, to the part comprized...
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 meantime,—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...
The Roof of the South wing of the Capitol having been completly boarded before the late heavy rain, it was sufficiently tight to throw a very large quantity of Water upon the Gutters which lie in the direction of, & over the Arch that surrounds the Area of the house. All the Water which fell between the Gutters & the external Walls was thus collected in a Body in the N.E & N.W, angles. These...
I herewith submit to your consideration a project for laying out the ground around the president’s house. The present enclosure together with the buildings already erected & those projected are also laid down in their proper situations so as to give to You at one view all the merits of the plan. By the arrangement the public are put to no inconvenience of communication between the parts of the...
The arrangements proposed by me for the use of the rooms with North wing of the Capitol may be postponed untill your arrival, when on inspection of them, it may perhaps occur to you to give directions different from those which I have proposed, or which have yet been suggested. The extremely inconvenient accomodation of the court will no doubt strike you, & in the mean time, I will write to...
Mr Latrobe presents his most respectful Compliments to the President U.S.—& thanks him for the Inventory sent him. Mr. Latrobe’s object in going to Philadelphia is to take some measures necessary for the supply of sundry materials for the Pblic Bldgs, & articles of furniture for the Presids. house. He intends to return without fail on the 2d. of March. Before the President’s journey to...
The high respect & attachment which I have always professed and very sincerely felt for you has not been proved by the frequency of my letters to you. But knowing how much your time & mind are occupied by correspondence of infinitely more importance, I have never had the vanity to believe that I am entitled to intrude upon you with t special occasion.—Another reason,—the reason indeed which...
I fear I have done wrong in printing the letter herewith sent without communicating to you the Manuscript. My only excuse is this: that having postponed the fulfillment of my intention so long that I found there would be difficulty in getting the letter printed after congress had met,—I at last wrote hastily, & the little pamphlet is the production of three nights, between the hours of 10 &...
As I could not be well spared myself, I sent down my Clerk to the Quarries, immediately after writing to you, and as soon as the business would permit, I followed him, and made such arrangements, as that we have now all our most heavy stone in the Yard, and shall not probably be again at a Stand for stone. The architrave is set round the East semicircle, & by Friday evening the three Stones...
I received while in Philadelphia, (from whence I am just now returned) a short letter Decr. 21st from Mr Thompson, chairman of the Come. of the House of Representatives on the public buildings, requiring simply an estimate of the sum required to finish the Southwing of the Capitol. I promised, by return of post, an answer in a few days. In the meantime, having fortunately all the drawings with...
We have put in the frames of the Pannel lights on the whole of the West side of the dome and are now engaged in putting in those on the East. I find it impossible to save the Center light on the South side, and indeed it would have been better to have sacrificed the two next east & West of them,—for the roof in that part is so flat, that I fear we must cover it with Lead. I will endeavor so to...
To the President of the United States of America. The Report of the Surveyor of the Publick buildings of the United States, at Washington March 23d. 1808 My Report on the progress and state of the publick buildings of the United States in the City of Washington during the year 1807 has been delayed untill all the work performed at the Capitol and the Presidents house could be measured and the...
Since your departure the public Works have made regular progress, nor has any thing occurred which would have authorized, my trespassing on your time by a letter.—I have been since then in Philadelphia & New York, & returned hither about three weeks ago.—The confinement of my wife & the loss of our child has since my return delayed the statement I am now going to make of the present situation...
The occasion of my writing to you at present is to solicit your sanction to a voucher of expenditure which, without it, cannot pass the treasury, but will leave the amount chargeable to me individually.— The supper given, according to a custom, which I cannot but think a good one, to all the workmen at the Capitol was so arranged (as it to its being furnished), with M r Steele Stelle ,—that he...
Since my arrival in this city I have endeavored by enquiries here, & by writing to New York, Boston, & Albany to procure the glass necessary for the lights of the Cieling of the Hall of Representatives, and have been entirely disappointed. I have therefore sent by the Packet an order to England of which a duplicate shall follow by the first opportunity, and, unless the Vessel should be lost we...
I have waited till this late hour for the list of his Workmen, & of all the blocks which are now on the Yard which Mr Blagden has promised me, & which is necessary to the completion of the scheme of the progress of the workg which I have to submit to you. I find so many of our Blocks, on examination, to be cracked by drying, that my statement, is incorrect, in as far as the work expected to be...
A Report has just now been made to the House on the public Buildings. It contains all the arguments that can be adduced in favor of the appropriation & the best defence that could have been urged as to the deficit. To me it is highly flattering, a circumstance not less pleasing to my self love, & useful to my professional standing, than agreeable to every feeling of my heart in reference to...
I most sincerely regret your continued illness.—The weather prevented till Saturday any measures being taken to lay out the grounds. Today I am engaged in it.—A contract for the Wall is made.—As soon as the stakes are driven the diggers will go to work. At the capitol we have this morng recommenced the external works. The plaisterers are lathing the cieling.— with high respect Yrs. DLC :...
When your letter of the 27 t of Aug t arrived, I was confined to my bed by a bilious fever. After my recovery two long absences from the city, and as much occupation as filled all my time, prevented my acknowledging the favor you have done me in communicating to me the very simple, & valuable invention it discribes . But what renders your letter more valuable, is the assurance it gives me of...
I am sorry that the necessity of producing your Voucher to the officers of the Treasury obliges me to trouble you with the enclosed account of expenditures. For my own expenses I have not been able to obtain vouchers in detail, travelling principally with my own horses, and must depend upon the amount of the expenses of each journey, which are minutely correct, appearing reasonable to you. For...
Mr. Latrobe intended to have waited on the President this evening, but as he has returned the report, with his approbation, he will immediately cause two copies to be made of it, & then wait upon the President with them.— The Weather has for two days prevented the Gates being put into the Walls. If fair tomorrow the breach will be made & the Gates fixed.— DLC : Papers of Thomas Jefferson.
Having been absent from Washington I did not receive your letter of the 24 t of Aug t under untill about (sept. 7 th ) 3
I arrived here with my family on the 12 h of Jan y and a few days afterwards was taken ill of my old complaint, the Hemicran i a , a complaint in which no one, I believe, can more heartily sympathise with me than yourself, as I believe you are often severely afflicted with it. I was confined to my room for three weeks. Immediately on my recovery I was called to Annapolis to examine the bar at...
Since I dispatched my letter of this morning, I have gone over with Mr Lenthall the papers in the office, & the following is the result.  Our large stone has cost $1.75 ⅌ perch such as we have always used at the Capitol; but small stone fit for the Wall, if mixed with larger, may be had at $1.12 ½ , say with Waste, and laying up close, $1.30 One man will lay a perch of Wall & point it on both...
I forgot to mention this morning,—that since my measurement & certificate of Mr Barry’s account he has threatened that unless I immediately complete his measurement he shall charge two Dollars a day for waiting here, & he has stated that you had ordered that no money should be paid out of the funds appropriated to the President’s house untill his demands were satisfied.—I feel an objection to...
Since my departure from Washington, I find by constant correspondence with Mr. Lenthall, that all the works at Washington are regularly going on.—A difficulty has however occurred in procuring the boards for the roof of the Capitol of heart pine 12 inches broad.—Mr. King the Timber merchant at Georgetown has declined engaging to supply them on any terms. I have therefore written to Mr....
In applying the appropriations of the last Session of Congress, of 110,000$ to the prosecution of the work on the South wing of the Capitol, & of 20,000$ to the service of the other public buildings, I have endeavored so to comply with your directions, as to forward the progress of the works to the utmost extent of the limited resources of this City. The mass of building which has been erected...
I had the favor of your letter of the 1st. of July yesterday evening & have immediately taken the necessary steps to procure 6 Stonecutters,—but as this is the Anniversary of our Independence I have found it impossible to procure the attention of anybody today . Tomorrow, I expect to be able to make sure of as many as the city can spare. I have called the Master Stonecutters together, & have...
In the reporting to You on the manner in which the work on the public buildings of the United States has been conducted during the Year 1804, I cannot avoid expressing my regret that a Sensible portion of the appropriation by Congress has necessarily been expended in pulling down or repairing what was done insufficiently, previously to the Year 1803. The application of the public money to the...
I have been twice at the Pr. House in hopes of having the favor of a few minutes conversation with you before my departure; but was both times so unfortunate as to find you engaged, and at the same time to be so pressed myself that I could not watch the opportunity of speaking to you.— I have I hope left nothing in a state to suffer by my absence, & I shall return as soon as I can arrange my...
This day our board & its Committees finish their business. I shall get into the Mail, if possible today. At all events tomorrow & come on without the loss of a moments’ time. I am with the sincerest respect Yrs DLC : Papers of Thomas Jefferson.
I have found so much pleasure in studying the plan of your College , that the drawings have grown into a larger bulk than can be conveniently sent by the Mail. If you can point out to me any convenient mode of conveyance within a few days, I should gladly avail myself of it. I have put the whole upon one very large sheet, which I am very unwilling to double; and to roll it on a stick will make...
I have been here for some time, 10 days, & shall remain untill every thing which requires my presence is compleatly disposed of, which will be the case I hope about the middle of next week. I will now endeavor to give you full information of all the circumstances attending the present state of the public buildings. 1. The Capitol.— The exterior walls are caried up perfectly as high as the tops...
I am just now arrived in the city, and will wait upon you as soon as I can make myself acquainted with the exact state of the public Works. I left Washington on the 30th. of June last. On the 12th. of July, Mrs. Latrobe’s mother died suddenly. On the 17th she was brought to bed of a daughter and continued so unwell for a month that it was improper to communicate to her the loss she had...
I herein enclose the strongest specimen of the plant which under the name of Dryrot commits such ravages upon the timber of buildings,—which I had ever met with. It was taken from the timber upon which the principal piers of the Senate chamber were built. The timber itself is reduced almost to powder, being more decayed than any other part of the work. We have now pulled them all down, & I...