George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Tench Tilghman, 18 August 1784

From Tench Tilghman

Baltimore [Md.] 18th Augt 1784.

Dear Sir

I have recd your Excellency’s letters of the 4th and 11th. The first inclosing Bank Bills for 90 dollars which I beleive is more than sufficient—but Mr Peters has been so ill, that I have not been able to procure the Cost of the wheat Fan. My Clerk remembers shipping the Handle from hence.

I am glad your Carpenter is like to please you—Having not met with a Bricklayer, I shall desist looking further untill you may again direct me.

Inclosed you will find answers to your several Queries respecting the Green House in the order in which they were put,1 and that you may the better understand the Construction of Mrs Carrolls, I have made a rough Plan of the Manner of conducting the Flues 2—your Floor being 40 feet long, Mrs Carrol recommends two Flues to run up the Back Wall, because you may then increase the number of Flues which run under the Floor, and which she looks upon as essential—The Trees are by that mean kept warm at the Roots—she does not seem to think there is any occasion for the Heat to be conveyed all round the Walls by means of small Vacancies left in them, she has always found the Flues mark’d in the plan sufficient for her House.

She recommends it to you to have the upper parts of your Window sashes to fall down, as well as the lower ones to rise—you then give Air to the Tops of your Trees.

Your Ceiling she thinks ought to be Arched and at least 15 feet high—she has found the lowness of hers which is but 12 very inconvenient.

smooth stucco she thinks preferable to common Plaister because dryer.

The Door of the House to be as large as you can conveniently make it—otherwise when the Trees come to any size, the limbs are broken and the Fruit torn off in moving in and out.

It is the Custom in many Green Houses to set the Boxes upon Benches—But Mrs Carrol says they do better upon the Floor because they then receive the Heat from the Flues below to more advantage.

I recollect nothing more—I hope your Excellency will understand this imperfect description of a matter which I do not know much about myself—I am with true Regard Yr Excellency’s very hble Servt

Tench Tilghman


1Tilghman answered GW’s queries in this way (DLC:GW):

Qu: Ansr
1st dimensions of Mrs Carrolls Green House 1st 24 by 12
2d What kind of Floor 2d Tile
3d How high from the floor to the Bottom of the Window frame 3d 16 Inches
4. Height of the Windows from Bottom to Top. 4th 9 feet
5. How high from Top of the Windows to the Ceiling 5th 18 Inches
6. Whether the Ceiling is flat or Arched 6. Flat—but Arches recommended
7. Whether the heat is conveyed by Flues and a Grate 7th Vid. Plan
8. Whether the Grate is in the out or the Inside 8th Vid. Plan
9th Whether the Flues run all round the House 9th Vid. Plan
10th The Size of them without and in the Hollow 10th 2½ feet in the Clear as plan
11th & 12th Answered in the Foregoing.

2In the enclosed sketch Tilghman draws an “A” on either side of the “S. E. Front in which are four Windows.” Parallel to the two As, he has a line of three Bs. Perpendicular to the middle B, he has C and, at the back, D. His F is to the right of the As, at the right-hand wall of the greenhouse. On the left-hand wall he shows one “Window” and one “Door about 6 feet wide.” He gives a key to his letters, A through E:

“A.A. Main Flue 2 feet wide. 2 ½ feet high. arches. running the whole length of the House at about one foot from the Front Wall.
B.B.B.    Flues issuing from the Main one and of the same dimensions
C. The place where all the Flues meet in order to carry the heat up the Back Wall—The dimensions of this place I could not ascertain as it is below Ground but it need be only sufficiently large to receive the mouths of the three Flues B.B.B.
D. The size of the Flue which runs up the Back Wall—which is one Foot Square in the Clear—it goes up thro’ the Roof like a Chimney in order to give Vent to the Heat—and within the Green House is like the funnel of a Chimney without a Fire place—about three feet from the Floor of the Green House there is an opening large eno. to receive an Iron pi⟨pe⟩ which slides in and out Horizontally. The use of this is to stop the passage of the Heat from the Flues below when you want to warm the House quickly—you will observe that the Flue D. is nothing more than a continuation of the space C.
E. The Mouth of the Main Flue, which is without the House, and sun⟨k⟩ so low that the top of its Arch is sufficiently below the Floor of the Green House to allow a paving of Tile over it—It has an Iron Door The Wood is put in, in the Manner that the Brick Makers heat their Kilns—there is a small Building of Brick in the mouth of this Flue to prevent the Water from running into it” (DLC:GW).

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