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Personal Name Recipient

Allison, James W., 1833-1898


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]

Personal Name Subject

Allison, James W., 1833-1898 -- Correspondence; Randall, T. Henry, 1869-1905 -- Travel -- Virginia -- Richmond

Corporate Name Subject

Griffin & Randall -- Correspondence; Griffin & Randall -- Reorganization

Topical Subject

Architecture, Domestic -- Designs and plans; Architecture, Domestic -- Virginia -- Richmond; Architects and builders -- New York (State) -- New York; Partnership; Corporate reorganizations; Project management

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 Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison, 1894 September 4, James W. Allison papers, M 1, Special Collections and Archives, James Branch Cabell Library, Virginia Commonwealth University.

File Name


Letter from Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison, 1894 September 4



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