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Personal Name Recipient

Allison, James W., 1833-1898


Letter from T. Henry Randall to James W. Allison pointing out the limitations of Mr. Griffins work and proposing a method of joint supervision.


Sept. 5th '94. My dear Mr. Allison, After inflicting upon you such a lengthy epistle yesterday in the firms’ name, I am still so much worked up upon the subject that I feel that I must write you again today and clearly explain some matters of importance that were not sufficiently explicit. I utterly hate this kind of thing; and having as you know such a high regard for Griffin in his personal attractions and fine character [next word interlined with caret] in general, I all the more dislike having to point out his weaknesses in his professional sphere. I fear that you may have thought that I was unreasonable in the way I expressed certain matters, and exaggerated the exact state of the case through momentary excitement; but I assure you, if I could explain to you the amount of patient and ceaseless watchfulness that I have had to keep up during the last three years, and the endless disagreable and humiliating confessions that I have been compelled to make to clients where I have found that their work had been neglected and carelessly arranged by Mr. Griffin, you would understand why I expressed myself so decidedly and without any reserve. You must not think that I am blowing my own trumpet, when his can not be heard. I can only refer you to two of his personal friends (and our clients) whose work he superintended and whose homes have had to be almost rebuilt to be livable. Fortunately they came to me to do this work for them, otherwise our name would have been almost ruined. The trouble with Mr. Griffin is his excess of animal spirit which seems to interfere with every faculty that makes a man careful, industrious, and able-minded. I say this to you, as I have what I wrote yesterday, not as our client, but as his personal friend. I feel without any hesitation at all that he is not a proper person to superintend a house under any circumstances. He can do his best work in an office where he can be over-looked; but as you must have realized before, he can not be depended upon to carry out work on his own responsibilities. But let us see, if your proposition can not be in a measure followed without detriment to the work, and without giving offense to him. Suppose I keep the drawings of your house; make those that are hereafter necessary, with the draughtsmen who have before worked upon them; and whenever it is unnecessary for me to arrange matters personally, send Mr. Griffin to look at the work and report upon it. In that way matters can go on as at present and your house [next word interlined with caret] be properly looked after. The control of the design and of the work generally should however remain where it is. Hoping that this will be satisfactory to you and to us both as well. I remain your's truly, T. Henry Randall. [ALS, T. Henry Randall to James W. Allison, September 5, 1894 on letterhead: Griffin & Randall, Architects 48 Exchange Place, New York. Envelope docketed: [image one] [next two letters written over G. &.] T.H.R. Sept 5. 1894 In relation to Mr. Griffin's ability and pointing out his limitations. Proposition as to how the work shall be completed under their joint supervision.] [edited by CC]

Personal Name Subject

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

Topical Subject

Architecture, Domestic -- Designs and plans; Architecture, Domestic -- Virginia -- Richmond; Architects and builders -- New York (State) -- New York; Supervision; Performance; 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 T. Henry Randall to James W. Allison, 1894 September 5, James W. Allison papers, M 1, Special Collections and Archives, James Branch Cabell Library, Virginia Commonwealth University.

File Name


Letter from T. Henry Randall to James W. Allison, 1894 September 5



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