Building VCU’s President's House

James W. Allison Papers (1891, 1893-1896), Architects’ Correspondence
This online collection of correspondence is from the papers of James W. Allison, a late 19th century wealthy Richmond businessman. The collection includes over 100 documents - letters and a few telegrams - concerning the construction in 1894-1896 of what is today VCU’s President’s House, 910 W. Franklin Street. Fully 104 of the documents are from the hands of the architects that Allison hired to design his mansion. Much of the correspondence includes replies to questions by Allison during the construction of his house. The letters also describe the selection of such elements as fireplace mantles, gas-and-electric fixtures, decorative tiles, and scenic wallpaper.

Soon after the Civil War, James W. Allison (1833-1898) established the seed and fertilizer firm of Allison & Addison with Edmund B. Addison. By the 1890s the company had expanded greatly and become one of the most successful fertilizer producers in the South. The earliest letter in the collection is from Allison to his wife, Minnie Clemens Jones Allison (1870-1927). It notes their intention to construct a new house. A year later they chose the site on W. Franklin Street, at that time Richmond’s most fashionable residential neighborhood. At the time of his death in 1898, Allison left an estate of nearly one million dollars.

In 1938, the Allison family sold the house to Richmond Professional Institute (RPI), the forerunner to VCU on the Monroe Park campus. The building was used as the residence of the head of RPI for thirty years. Since 1968, when VCU was formed, it has served as the main offices of the President of the University. James W. Allison, Jr. (1894-1979) donated the collection of his father's papers to VCU Libraries in the early 1970s. They contain original architectural drawings, correspondence, and other materials. The James W. Allison papers are a valuable resource for those interested in late 19th century architectural history. These documents are housed in Special Collections and Archives at the James Branch Cabell Library, VCU Libraries. For more about the collection, see the finding aid for the James W. Allison papers.

The Architects: Percy Griffin and T. Henry Randall
Allison chose the New York architectural firm of Griffin & Randall to design his house. Both partners boasted fine architectural pedigrees. Percy Griffin (1866-1921) graduated from the architectural school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1884 and then worked in the office of H. H. Richardson. T. Henry Randall (1862-1905) had also worked for Richardson after attending Johns Hopkins University, MIT, and the Ecole de Beaux-Arts in Paris. Randall, a native of Annapolis, Maryland, was the partner who decided on the Colonial Revival design of the house – making it one of the first of that style of houses built in Richmond. It pre-dates other early Colonial Revival houses on Monument Avenue by some 10 years.

The correspondence also details the demise of the firm. In 1895, Griffin and Randall decided to part ways in the middle of the construction of the Allison house. As the letters indicate, Allison was forced to choose which architect he wanted to oversee the completion of his house. Randall, who was the senior partner and who had the most influence over the building’s design, was selected.

For more information about the architectural history of the house, see Ray Bonis and Melissa A. Zimmerman, “The VCU President’s House, 1896-1996: From the Colonial Revival to the World Wide Web,” The Styles of Virginia Architecture: Abstracts of the Fourth Annual Virginia Architectural History Symposium, 1996 (Richmond: VCU School of the Arts, 1996).

Editorial Note
The following transcriptions of correspondence from the James W. Allison papers, were prepared during the spring 2006 semester in History 691, “Topics in Documentary Editing and Scholarly Publishing,” taught by John Kneebone, in the graduate program of the VCU Department of History.

Each document has been given a title, consisting of the names of the author and the recipient and the date of the document. The editors followed a conservative transcription policy. Words in the transcripts are spelled as they are in the original documents. Textual notes follow the procedure of italicizing editorial comments within square brackets, described by David L. Vander Meulen and G. Thomas Tanselle, “A System of Manuscript Transcription,” Studies in Bibliography, 52(1999):202-213.

A provenance note in brackets follows each document. Most of the documents are signed autograph letters (ALS) but a few are documents recording texts of telegrams. Because changes in letterheads reflect the dissolution of the architectural partnership of Percy Griffin and T. Henry Randall, texts of letterheads appear in the provenance note. It was James W. Allison’s practice to preserve the letters in their envelopes, on which a summary of the letter’s contents was docketed. The docketed notes on the envelopes are reported in the provenance note.

The following silent emendations have been made. The formal elements of the letters—address, date, salutation, and closing—have been standardized in their location on the page (at the left margin) only. Words broken or hyphenated at line ends in the documents have been restored. Ampersands and other symbols representing the word “and” in the documents have been standardized to “&.” Superscripts have been dropped to the line. To facilitate possible future online access to the transcripts along with the document images, the transcriptions mark page changes with square brackets and an italic statement of the image number online.

The editors are identified by their initials following the provenance note for each document that they edited. The editors are: Amy Adams (AA), Mary Bezbatchenko (MMB), David Carroll (WDC), Candi Caudill (CEC), Taylor Coble (TOC), Teresa Doherty (MTD), Thomas Hanna (TMH), Alyssa Holland (AGH), John Kneebone (JTK), Mary Richie McGuire (MRM), Jessica Munsch (JBM), Kay Peninger (KCP), Laura Ping (LJP), Vicki Rogers (VR), Suzanne Shepherd (SS), Arthur Striker (APS), and Morgan Thomas (MT).

Copyright
This material is in the public domain in the United States and thus is free of any copyright restriction. Acknowledgement of Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries as a source is requested.

Pages

Letter from Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison, 1894 November 20 [View Image]
Letter from Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison, 1894 November 20
Letter from Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison discussing work started by Purdy on the ornamental work for the house., Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison, 1894 November 20 Nov. 20th '94 James W. Allison Esq. Richmond. Va. Dear Sir, We have today started Purdy on some of the ornamental work for your house. He will make models and submit them to us. We have written Stowe & Nuckols to return all the F.S.I. drawing necessary for work which they have not undertaken to do. Mr. Purdy himself thinks that [they canceled; next word interlined with caret] he could take the contract to supply, set up and finish the Dining Rm. with high plain wainscoting for $1200.00 but he is now going over his estimates. We trust you will decide to do this. Your's truly, Griffin & Randall. [ALS, Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison, November 20, 1894, on letterhead: Griffin & Randall Architects <48 Broadway canceled; next two words stamped] 52 Broadway New York; Envelope docketed: —G. & R. Nov. 20. 1894— Started Purdy on some of the ornamental work for house Ordered some full-size-drawings back from Stowe & Nuckols. Purdy thinks he can supply set up and finish the Dining Room with high plain wainscoting for $1200.00] [edited by KCP]
Letter from Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison, 1894 November 26 [View Image]
Letter from Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison, 1894 November 26
Letter from Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison discussing Purdy's estimate of the dining room and work in the library., Nov. 26th '94. James W. Allison Esq. Richmond. Dear Sir, Your's of the 24th at hand. Purdy has just sent in his estimate for your Dining Rm. finish put up and completed at $1218.00 which is about the figure which Mr. Randall gave you. He assures us that he can get the very best wood and that he will select it for its grain and quality generally. We hope therefore that you will decide at once to do this room, as it is important to get out the material without delay. As to the Library finish we shall await the need estimate from Stowe & Nuckols, as we think it would be better for them to do the work. As to the bookcases, we hope you will not be discouraged about putting them in the wall because of the flues & gas outlets. It will be an easy matter to put in a panel over the former and the latter can be very easily moved. The register can be brought out between the shelves, as we have often had to do. The great advantage to you will be the saving of room as well as the improved appearance of the room generally by omitting the broken line that ordinary book shelves always give. All the trim in this room should be of the same wood. Stained pine never looks well along side of oak. Cypress would be better in that case if you do not care & change the pine trim to oak, as that wood would make a good room if properly stained and treated. The plaster must be carried down to floor on all walls. Where panelling covers it, the final coat can be omitted, also behind sheathing. Mr. Randall spoke of this when he was last in Richmond. He will be in Baltimore Friday and Saturday, and can run down to Richmond Monday, if you care to see him. Considering the progress of the work we did not suppose that this would be necessary. your's truly, Griffin & Randall [ALS. Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison, November 26, 1894, on letterhead: Griffin & Randall Architects <48 Exchange Place canceled; next two words stamped> 52 Broadway New York. Envelope docketed: ? G. & R? Nov. 26. 1894 — Purdy's estimate on Dining Room finish put up and completed is $1218.00 Desire bid on Library finish from Stowe & Nuckols? Can move the gas outlets and panels over the hot air flues. Stained pine not as good as cypress? Plastering must be carried down to floor on all walls— when to be covered by panelling the final coat may be omitted.] [edited by LJP]
Letter from Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison, 1894 November 9 [View Image]
Letter from Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison, 1894 November 9
Letter from Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison discussing estimates on the interior and supervision of the work., Nov. 9th '94. James W. Allison Esq. Richmond. Va. Dear Sir, We have just gone over Stowe & Nuckols' estimate for the interior finish of your house. They did not itemize them as they were particularly requested to do and consequently some of them are of little use. However, when Mr. Randall is in Richmond about the 14th inst. he can get from them the data necessary for the purpose. They have given an estimate for all the mantels (except Dining Rm.) at $775.00 including Library mantel; but Purdy, the New York man, bid on seven only and itemized them. His figure (delivered in Richmond) was $607.00 while these seven are figured in specifications at $525.00. Consequently there would be an "extra" of $82.00 on them unless you prefer to have them simplified sufficiently to come within the amt. of contract. Allowing $100.00 for the Library mantel and panelling about it, set and finished, the full amount for all would be $707.00; or $69.00 less than Stowe & Nuckols' figure. Their estimates for the pilasters in Music Room cornices &c. are all high. These Mr. Randall will explain when he sees you. They deduct $171.00 for the changes they were told to make. Their figure for the Dining Rm. work, like sketch which you have, and without any panelling except what is particularly mentioned, is $980.00. Purdy's estimate for this work, without setting or finishing, is $700.00. Stowe & Nuckols could put it up and finish it for less than $150.00 so that the room would not cost more than $850.00 in this way, which is much less ($130.00) than their estimate. In the case of all the work done here, we could look after it ourselves and see that every detail was satisfactory before it was sent to Richmond. The work for the Music Room could likewise be done here better and cheaper. The additions to the cornices in this room and in Hall and Reception Rm. had better be done in Richmond. We have directed Stowe & Nuckols to put on all their grounds for finish in accordance with the "additions and deductions" last agreed upon, and the question as to who shall supply the finish can be settled later. It is most unfortunate on every account that Mr. Griffin should have brought up and pressed the question of personal supervision of your work after the matter had been satisfactorily and finally settled. Obviously it would be impossible for him to give it proper supervision when he is unfamiliar with the drawings, the details, the supervision already done and the correspondence on the whole subject since the building was begun. In the next place this work can not be separated from the other work of the firm, because all the correspondence and business generally connected with it are in the same books of the firm as the rest of its unfinished business and would naturally [word canceled; next word interlined] cause serious confusion and inconvenience if it were attempted. But above all this Mr. Griffin accepted the situation and all it implied when he became a Junior Partner, with a smaller interest in the direction &c. of the affairs of the firm. However disagreeable it is to all in this matter in a way not acceptable to him, he must concede that that this is the only solution of the problem which is consistant with what he agreed was the fair and proper way of winding up the firms' affairs in every other case, where he offered no objections whatever. The same conditions which are in force there are in force here, looking at the whole question from a business standpoint; and what has been found to be to the best interests of the other clients, of their work and of the firm itself, is obviously just as imperative in this case. Hoping that this matter will not have to be referred to again, We remain Faithfully Yours' Griffin & Randall. [ALS, Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison, November 9, 1894, on letterhead: Griffin & Randall Architects <48 Exchange Place canceled; next two words interlined> 52 Broadway New York. Envelope docketed: G.&R. Nov. 9. 1894. Received S.&.N's. estimates for interior finish— including all mantels except Dining Room— Also their deductions for proposed omissions and a comparison with Purdys bid on mantels &c.— Griffins re-opening the question of further superintendence.] [edited by JBM]
Letter from Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison, 1894 October 1 [View Image]
Letter from Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison, 1894 October 1
Letter from Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison discussing wall outlets and other specifications., Oct. 1st '94. James W. Allison Esq. Richmond, Va. Dear Sir, Your's of the 29th Sept. at hand. The height for the wall outlets is a matter for you and Mrs. Allison to decide, and we purposely omitted to fix it because we wished you to arrange it as you might be accustomed to have them or as you considered most convenient. As a rule wall lights in all passages and halls and in First Story generally should be six feet above floor; and in Bed Rooms five feet, six inches above floor. If you think this a good arrangement please so notify the contractor; or, otherwise, mark the height on the studding where you wish any exceptions to this rule. There were two outlets in 3rd Floor Bed Rooms. One on left of door on entering, and one near window beyond and on chimney. These two ought to be sufficient, though more would be better of course. We sent Stowe & Nuckols a certificate for $3000.00 on Saturday. They promised to have the estimates for finish here today, but as usual they have not turned up. As soon as we receive them and can get the whole question in shape we will have Mr. Randall go on and put it before you for final settlement. We have ordered sliding door hangers to be sent the contractors. There will be a slight “extra” on these, as a different variety was specified. Your's truly Griffin & Randall [ALS, Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison, October 1, 1894, on letterhead: Griffin & Randall Architects 48 Exchange Place New York. Envelope docketed: G.&R. Octr. 1. 1894 — Height of outlets for gas — As a rule, in Passages, halls and on first stroy 6 ft. above floor & in bed rooms 5 ft. 6 inches. Have sent Stowe & Nuckols certificate for $3000.00 S&N estimate for finishes promised for that day (Oct. 1) not received. Ordered sliding door hangers shipped on which there will be a slight extra as a different kind was specified.] [edited by AA]
Letter from Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison, 1894 October 20 [View Image]
Letter from Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison, 1894 October 20
Letter from Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison discussing specifications for staircases and floors., Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison, 1894 October 20Oct. 20th '94. James W. Allison Esq. City. Dear Sir, Your's of the 19th at hand. The question of reduction for the changes made in staircases was not mentioned among our list because it is our impression that in consideration [of canceled; next word interlined] for making the Main Staircase and the Stairs from 2nd to 3rd floors of ash and black walnut, instead of pine and maple, that the Back Stairs from 1st to 2nd floors would be changed to Va. pine like same to Basement. However we shall take up that matter again. In our copy of Specifications it is so stated. It was Mr. Randall who suggested the tin being carried around walls of Pantries &c. behind the base-board. It would not be put in until after the floors are layed and before the room is trimmed, so you could just as well decide then as now about it. We have just noticed that there are no floors specified or shown in the Basement in Passage, Laundry &c. Was this intentional? As a rule servants, as well as housekeepers, find great fault with cement floors in such cases. They are cold and disagreable under foot and hard to keep clean. It would be wiser probably to lay “sleepers” in the concrete and put down a floor. We have sent Stowe & Nuckols their list and hope to hear from them early next week. Your's Truly Griffin & Randall [ALS, Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison, on letterhead: T. Henry Randall Architect 48 Exchange Place New York. Envelope docketed: G. & R. Octr 20.1894 Stairs in extension 1st to 2nd floor to be of pine same as basement. Tin around walls of Pantries & behind base to go in before top floor is laid Recommending sleepers laid in Laundry in concrete for a floor.] [edited by MMB]
Letter from Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison, 1894 October 30 [View Image]
Letter from Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison, 1894 October 30
Letter from Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison defining specifications and values for crystal plate, polished plate, and plate glass., Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison, 1894 October 30James W. Allison Esqr. Dear Sir - On account of the question raised by you in reference to the glass for your house, we send you the following information— The term “polished crystal” means the best quality of glass polished down to 1/8" in thickness and for example take a sheet of glass 32"x 42" and that size can be bought in N.Y. in accordance with the following table— 32"x 42" 1/8" Crystal Plate $8.40 " x " 3/16" Polished " $6.40 " x " 1/4" Plate $4.50 This gives you the relative net prices, and and our opinion that “polished crystal” covers the first of the three mentioned, has been confirmed by the best authority. You might save something by changing from “polished crystal” to plate, and we might send you an estimate on the glass— if you like— We should recommend you to put in a 4'6" Duparquet range, special, which costs, net $72.20 F.O.B. N.Y. and John Bowers of Richmond can set it— The advantages of the "4'6" special" is, that it has a very large water back— Very truly yours, Griffin & Randall [ALS, Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison, October 30, 1894, on letterhead: Griffin & Randall Architects 48 Exchange Place New York. Envelope docketed G. & R. Octr. 30. 1894/Defining chrystal plate, polished plate and plate glass with relative values. Recommendations Duparquet special Range cost $72.20 f.o.b. N.Y.] [edited by TOC]
Letter from Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison, 1894 September 21 [View Image]
Letter from Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison, 1894 September 21
Letter from Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison advising him of Mr. Randall's availability to visit Richmond., Sept. 21st ’94. James W. Allison Esq. Richmond. Va. Dear Sir, We have as yet heard nothing from Stowe and Nuckols in regard to their estimate for interior finish of your house. We hope that the cornice work has had its first coat of paint before the late severe rains. Our principal object in writing to you now is to say that Mr. Randall will be in Baltimore Saturday and Monday, and that he can come to Richmond, if you require him on Tuesday. In that case telegraph him at our Superintendent’s office.— B.B. Owens. 323 N. Charles St. Yours truly Griffin & Randall [ALS, Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison, September 21, 1894, on letterhead: Griffin & Randall Architects 48 Exchange Place New York. Envelope docketed: [image one] — G. & R. Septr 21. 1894 — Mr. Randall will be in Baltimore Saturday and Monday and can come to Richmond on Tuesday if required. Copy of T/D from J.W.A advising him that he will be in N.Y. on Wednesday morning.] [edited by VR]
Letter from Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison, 1894 September 4 [View Image]
Letter from Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison, 1894 September 4
Letter from Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison discussing future supervision of the house, dissolution of the firm, and reasons for Mr. Randall to continue., Sept. 4th '94. James W. Allison Esq. Richmond, Va. Dear Sir, Your's of the 1st received and its contents carefully noted. It is unfortunate that the question of the future supervision of the work on your house should have to come up again for discussion, as it is one of those things that can hardly be considered impartially and is sure to give cause for [next word interlined] extreme disappointment to one or other member of this firm. Furthermore it does seem to be outside of the sphere of this firm itself to discuss it, much less to decide it. This much, however, can be said that while Mr. Griffin may have expected to take charge of your work after his return, no such understanding was made with Mr. Randall; for even if he had not gone abroad, the drawings and specifications were in such a state that Mr. Randall would have had to take charge of them and straighten out everything before the work could be commenced, as he did later. Mr. Griffin has to be overlooked himself, and on that account the superintendence of work has been put in his hands only when it was impossible for Mr. Randall to look after it, and in cases, like your own, where from time to time the progress of things could be watched. It would not be to your advantage, therefore, to have the charge of the work put in any other hands than the person who designed your house, made all the drawings revised the specifications, and superintended the work up to date. This may sound very sweeping, and obviously it is a very hard thing to say, but it is simply one of many cases wherein it was found necessary to take the direction of the work out of Mr. Griffin's hands and finally dissolve the firm itself. While Mr. Griffin's position would be perfectly just, if he had without assistance or direction made the drawings and the details for the work, it is equally clear that under the present circumstances, as the junior partner, unfamiliar with the drawings, specifications and the work itself, he is not qualified to assume complete control of your work any more than of any other work of the firm. As the offices of the members of the firm will no longer be together it will be impossible for Mr. Randall to overlook Mr. Griffin as he has been accustomed to do heretofore; and obviously you will be put to great inconvenience as a result. The two members of the firm could not work conjointly in any case, as the drawings that will hereafter be made must be done by one throughly familiar with every detail and in the office where all of the other drawings are within reach. To sum up the whole matter in an “egg-shell”, the ground upon which Mr. Griffin would expect to assume control of this work would be that he first consulted with you in regard to the work and was in nominal charge of it up to the time of his departure for Europe. The ground which Mr. Randall would take is that as head of the firm he designed your house and supervised the drawings both before and after Mr. Griffin's departure, although he but rarely consulted you in regard to them, as you of course remember; and that after he had gone to such pains to get the drawings &c. in proper condition and [next word interlined with a caret] the work itself done as well as circumstances would permit [next five words interlined with a caret] it is hard upon him that the control of it further should be taken out of his hands. The importance of proper and careful supervision can not be overestimated, for upon it hangs the very character of the effect which we are striving to gain, and no amount of drawings can accomplish that. It is certainly a very painful duty to go in such matters with this amount of frankness and to make statements prejudicial to the ability of one member of the firm, and he absent; but were it not for excessive carelessness upon the part of that member of the firm and the serious losses to which both we & our clients were subjected, there would never have been any thought of its dissolution. Mr. Randall expects to be in Richmond early next week and hopes to have all unfinished matters discussed and decided. Your's truly Griffin & Randall [ALS, Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison, September 4, 1894, on letterhead: Griffin & Randall Architects 48 Exchange Place New York. Envelope docketed: G. & R. Septr. 4. 1894. In re Future supervision of the house: Its decisions sure to give cause for disappointment to one partner or the other and seems to be outside the sphere of the firm to discuss or decide it. Reasons only Mr. Randall shd. continue. Statement of Mr. Griffins inability to carry on work independently.] [edited by AA]
Letter from Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison, 1894, June 22 [View Image]
Letter from Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison, 1894, June 22
Letter from Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison discussing floor joist and noting upcoming visit., June 22nd '94. James W. Allison Esq. Richmond. Va Dear Sir, your's of the 20th and 21st at hand and their contents noted. Floor joist are sawed from logs by saws placed at intervals of two inches, three inches &c. and the joists afterwards shrink more or less according to the amount of seasoning the log has had. The shrinkage should not be over 1/8" in 2", but that much is always found. Consequently no joist less than 1 7/8" should be used. As to the other questions referred to by you, we will have to decide upon them later. Mr. Randall expects to be in Baltimore Monday and perhaps Tuesday and would therefore be in Richmond about Wednesday. We have two firms here figuring on the Dining Rm. finish, and will send a set of the drawings to the Philadelphia firm of Karcher & Rehn Co. who wish to estimate upon the work. The change you wish to have made in the window sills will have no effect upon their figures. Your's truly Griffin & Randall. [ALS, Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison, June 22, 1894, on letterhead: Griffin & Randall Architects 48 Exchange Place New York. Envelope docketed: —G&R— June 22nd. 1894— About shrinking of joist and advising that he will be here about Wednesday next.] [edited by APS]
Letter from Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison, 1894, March 28 [View Image]
Letter from Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison, 1894, March 28
Letter from Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison discussing bids for stone work., Griffin & Randall to James W. AllisonJames W. Allison Esqr. Dear Sir: Your letter of yesterday has just come to us and if Stowe & Nuckols have made the mistake of not adding the stone work estimate to their bid, it must have been strangely overlooked— for in their proposal they distinctly say that they have included it. This omission makes Robinson the lowest man and we have sent for him to come in today & go over the figures with us and shall report to you the result— Will you kindly send the lowest estimate you have, upon the mason's work complete so that we may compare it with Robinson's mason estimate, and also ask your mason what he has allowed for the cut brown stone work— I doubt if you can get it for less than [word canceled] , or as little as, the figure we have here, $1300.— We should also like to know what difference you found could be made by reducing the walls— Very truly yours Griffin & Randall 28 Mch. '94. What is Bailey Davis' estimate? [ALS, Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison, March 28, 1894, on letterhead: Griffin & Randall Architects 48 Exchange Place New York] [edited by KCP]
Letter from Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison, 1894, November 6 [View Image]
Letter from Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison, 1894, November 6
Letter from Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison concerning the moving of the office and drawings of the firm., Nov. 6th’94. James W. Allison Esq. Richmond. Va. Dear Sir, The offices and drawings of this firm have been moved to 52 Broadway, where hereafter the work of the firm will be carried on and where all communications will thereafter be addressed. The interior finish of your house will be taken up at once. As soon as it is put in proper shape our Mr. Randall will come to Richmond, and put the whole matter before you. Your’s truly Griffin & Randall. [ALS, Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison, November 6, 1894, on letterhead: Griffin & Randall Architects 48 Exchange Place New York. Envelope docketed: – G & R Nov. 6.— Notifying me that the office and drawings of the firm have been moved to 52 Broadway.] [Edited by AGH]
Letter from Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison, 1895 April 10 [View Image]
Letter from Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison, 1895 April 10
Letter from Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison discussing stains and estimates for fireplace facings., James W. Allison, Esq. Richmond, Va. Dear Sir, Your’s of the 4th was not fully answered, so we shall add a few words here. The reason for the "scratches" on sample we sent you was simply due to the fact that the grain was not filled with "filler" or varnish; but it has nothing to do with the stain. Filler is used to save varnish, and when it is required it should be applied after the stain and not before, as it simply prevents the stain from doing its work. Occasionally "filler" is used with the stain to save trouble and expense, but with stain applied freely and then wiped and three coats of varnish the best results should follow. Occasionally after the stain and wiping is done, the dried color is not attained, and then the additional coloring matter is put in a "filler" to do it. Your prejudice to slate and blue stone hearths is unfortunate for they give very good results in every way and are probably cheaper than any other. While the material itself is cheap looking in its natural state, when filled with oil it is dark and unobtrusive. The enclosed estimate from Batterson and Eisele for the marble facings and hearths for Library and Bed Rms. The first is the more important as far as the house itself is concerned. The cost of the marble facings is probably about as low as the tile facings and brass trim. Tile hearths would be less expensive and can be selected to match the marble facings. The difference, however, is slight. We can send samples of these marbles to you, if you are not familiar with them. Pavonazzo is a cream color marble with dark veining occurring in patches. Stowe & Nuckols have written that they did not understand that a "car" was specified for your elevator which is a curious oversight on their part that is hard to believe under the circumstances. They will have to provide one at any rate. Your's truly, Griffin & Randall [ALS, T. Henry Randall to James W. Allison, April 10, 1895, on letterhead: Griffin & Randall Architects <48 Exchange Place canceled; next two words stamped> 52 Broadway New York] [edited by TOC]

Pages