George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Commissioners for the District of Columbia, 4 October 1798

From the Commissioners for the District of Columbia

Washington, 4th October 1798

Sir,

We have made all the examination in our power of the enclosed Estimate, and so far as relates to the foundation Stone, free stone and Brick work, taking it for granted the materials are to be of the best kind, and the work done in the strongest and neatest way, that the Estimate is not unreasonable.1 We have the highest opinion of the integrity of Mr Blagdin, and of his knowledge of stone and Brick work. Of Carpentry probably he has less knowledge, but is intimately connected with an English Carpenter of reputation and ability—Nor are we able to say whether the Estimate on that subject is reasonable or not.

If you on examining it, should not be satisfied, the opinion of some Master workman may be taken—Whatever determination you may come to on this subject, it will give us much pleasure to carry your wishes into effect. Hoban is confined by indisposition, or we would have taken his opinion on Mr Blagdin’s Estimate.

Your Deeds from Mr Carroll and the Commissioners are executed, and delivered to Dr Thornton, to be handed to you.2 We are, &c.

G. Scott

W. Thornton

A. White

LB, DNA: RG 42, Records of the Commissioners for the District of Columbia, Letters Sent.

1The enclosed estimate has not been found, but it probably was George Blagden’s estimate of what he would charge for constructing the three-story double house (or two connected houses) that GW planned to build in square 634 near the U.S. Capitol for the purpose of boarding members of Congress. Blagden, the superintendent of stonework and quarries at the U.S. Capitol, evidently submitted an estimate to the commissioners on 2 October. On 4 Oct., GW wrote the commissioners that "Blagdens estimate of the cost of the houses" exceeded the amount that he (GW) anticipated spending on the project. Blagden estimated that the cost of GW’s connected houses, which according to Blagden’s plan would include a basement, two main stories with 12-foot ceilings, and garret measuring nine feet high, would amount to $12,982.29 (see District of Columbia Commissioners to GW, 3 Oct.; and Arnebeck, Through a Fiery Trial description begins Bob Arnebeck. Through a Fiery Trial: Building Washington, 1790–1800. Lanham, Md., and London, 1991. description ends , 494-97). On 17 Oct., GW complained of the "unreasonableness" of Blagden’s "former estimates," but on 5 Nov., Blagden and architect James Hoban signed an agreement by which GW agreed to pay $11,000 for the construction of his double house (see GW to the District of Columbia Commissioners, 27 Oct. 1798, and notes 2 and 3; see also GW to the District of Columbia Commissioners, 28 Sept. 1798, and n.2 to that document; and Blagden to GW, 18 Oct. 1798).

2For GW’s purchase of a Federal City lot from Daniel Carroll of Duddington, and for the deed for that lot, see Alexander White to GW, 8 Sept. 1798, and n.1 to that document; see also the commissioners to GW, 3 Oct. 1798.

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