Percy Griffin



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Personal Name Recipient

Allison, James W., 1833-1898


Letter from Percy Griffin to James W. Allison detailing house specifications and estimates for marble, pilaster caps, roof, and water table.


14th April '94. James W. Allison Esqr. Dear Sir: We received your letters of the 12th & 13th, this morning, and cannot understand why your builders have had so much trouble in making an estimate upon the marble— for it is no more expensive than stone and the drawings show most clearly how much is required for lintels & sills & just how much for coping of front porch & main entrance steps— That is all the marble, including key and arch blocks, which the house requires— Your masons know how much the marble is pr. sq. ft. & from the full sizes of lintels & sills which you have, any contractor should be able to take off his quantities and make an exact figure— Stowe, probably could do this without taking it out of his office. Ask Stowe & Nuckols what would be the difference if any, and whether or not they would be obliged to make any difference in their estimate if the brownstone were, changed to marble and they, will get these points and attend to the sub contractor. Let them figure on making all the front steps marble— If the man who represents the marble men cannot figure on the drawings & full sizes which you have I doubt if it would be possible to make him understand what we want— However we shall write to the Balto. men. It seems to bad that the whole house should be held back on acc. of the marble— The pilaster caps which you fear may not be strong enough to carry what is above them, are not in a position to receive any weight, more than the woodwork of cornice above— and there is no brickwork over them and the main wall carries the weight of roof—Should we not use the putty caps, it will be better to make the pilaster caps of moulded brick, but the caps of "putty" painted white are the best with the marble— You very probably will have a contract with S&N. for the entire work and you should not bother yourself as to which of the sub contractors shall set the different materials— for they, must settle that, as they have the entire contract, & you will look to them for the completion of the house. We wrote asking about the walls so that the drawings may be made right accordingly and the figuring made correct. We merely wish the ridge— hips & valleys of slate roofs, to be flashed— A "water covering" will not be necessary if flashing is properly done. The water table & bases of pilasters will be made of moulded brick, the size of your large brick, laid on the flat as two courses of "headers" would be— that is the water table will be made of a double line of headers laid on their 4 inch bed and the bases [word illegible] in the same way— If Kimbel does your Dining Room, Stowe & Nuckols will only put in the sash, blinds, doors, floor and plastering, unless you will give the doors to Kimbel to make. He is estimating now upon the room including wainscoting— windows and room trim, mahogany pockets for blinds, cornice and mantel; all the woodwork in the room must be mahogany— You already have his figure on the mahogany doors. By making the first floor walls "two bricks thick", you will have the first story & cellar walls, just as they are shown on the sections which you have. The painting clause in specification is as we wished it to be. When we speak of "trim" we do not mean doors— The black walnut doors are to have a better finish than the others. One line of speaking tube will do, unless you prefer not to have what you say to the butler heard in the Servants Hall— If that is the case, it will be better to put in two lines. Trusting that it may not be long before we may be able to get this matter in shape We remain Very truly yours Griffin & Randall [ALS, Percy Griffin to James W. Allison, April 14, 1894, on letterhead: Griffin & Randall Architects 48 Exchange Place, New York. Envelope docketed: G&R— April 14, 1894— List of work in marbles— including bottom step to front porch. Pilaster cap not to carry any weight. No covering on ridges or hips. Water table to be 2 courses of bricks laid on flat on headers and of size of large common brick. Work to be left out in case the Dining Room is finished in mahogany. Speaking tubes— one line enough. Telegram April 17. in relation to estimates for marble.] [edited by JBM]

Personal Name Subject

Griffin, Percy -- Correspondence; Allison, James W., 1833-1898 -- Correspondence

Topical Subject

Architecture, Domestic -- Designs and plans; Architecture, Domestic -- Virginia -- Richmond; Architects and builders -- Virginia -- Richmond; Architecture -- Details; Letting of contracts -- Virginia -- Richmond; Marble; Building -- Estimates -- Virginia -- Richmond; Decoration and ornament, Architectural -- Virginia -- Richmond

Geographic Subject

Richmond (Va.) -- Historic houses, etc.; Richmond (Va.) -- Buildings, structures, etc.


Richmond (Va)


letters (correspondence)

Local Genre

text; archives


Still Image; Text

Digital Format





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.


Building VCU’s President's House


Original letter: Letter from Percy Griffin to James W. Allison, 1894 April 14, James W. Allison papers, M 1, Special Collections and Archives, James Branch Cabell Library, Virginia Commonwealth University.

File Name


Letter from Percy Griffin to James W. Allison, 1894 April 14



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