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Personal Name Recipient

Allison, James W., 1833-1898


Letter from Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison discussing paint specifications and samples.


March 29th '95. James W. Allison Esq. Richmond Va. Dear Sir, Your's of the 28th at hand. Newman told us yesterday that he had sent the hardware for the Extension, Attic, and Basement to the Contractors. The painter's samples for staining the black walnut doors were so bad that we advised him to do nothing with any of the doors until he had received from us samples of the wood stained by a painter here. He can then match the other doors in the house as nearly as the different woods will allow. We have approved of all samples of hardware for First & Second floors and Newman is at work upon them. For the Library where the finish is to be dark oak the hardware will be "antique bronze", or dull brass. Elsewhere it is heavily plated silver on this floor and simple in design. We have directed Stowe & Nuckols to communi- cate directly with Newman or with any other sub-contractors and not with us when they are simply [two letters canceled] in need of materials of any kind. The painter might finish the doors in Extension and Basement at once without waiting for samples of other doors, if he will be careful about the staining. He should stain them, without using a filler, and give them a dark redish oak color that you could see in sample and approve. Where ever the base board is to be painted it should be black. We have directed him to submit samples of light finish for wainscot and trim to you for approval. The "Eurika" people have been in to see us about their paint and insist that it is O.K. with only two coats. We have asked them to come in again to see the samples which your painter sent on, and to tell us what is wrong with it. Do you wish us to get estimates for gas fixtures in principal rooms? We have written Stowe & Nuckols about a new lift which we prefer to the one specified. Your's truly, Griffin & Randall. P.S. The agent for the Eurika Chimical Co. has just been in to see the samples of paint which Peters sent me. He says that the paint was not put on with due care, and that if it is compared with the sample which he sent you, that the difference in the two results will be perfectly apparent. Unfortunately, however, for this particular case, as we have no one but Peters to put on this paint, we shall have to make out as best we can under the circumstances. If we had used ordinary outside paint, we should have needed four coats, consequently with three of this (which will properly cover the wood) the result is gained at a lower cost, because that paint costs no more than the other. As to the use of the "Enamel" paint for the inside work three coats will also be necessary, and if the surface is not sufficiently glossy then, it can be rubbed down and given a coat of varnish which would look quite as well as any enamelling, and also at a much lower cost. In the best enamelled paint work five coats are put on and rubbed down before the final varnish coat is given to it. If three will not answer for rubbing, certainly four will in the case of this "Enamel" paint because [next word interlined with caret] it [two illegible letters] has more body than ordinary white lead paint. We are [word cancelled] now making the drawings for the "leaded glass" work in transom and side lights at Entrance & Vestibule doorways. This [next word interlined with a caret] is specified at $2.25 per sq. ft. but we have the work done here in bronze metal, which is stiffer and in every way better, at $1.75 per sq. ft. The side lights in Library and Reception Rm. windows on front of house would be made more interesting, if filled with the same kind of "leaded" glass and the additional cost for them would be made up for by the amount allowed by the specifications for the other. We shall have Stowe & Nuckols ship the sash to be leaded here by freight. Purdy has packed the greater part of his work and is ready to ship it; but we should allow several weeks of hot heat in the house before attempting to put any of his finish in place. Your's truly, Griffin & Randall [ALS, Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison, March 29, 1895, on letterhead: Griffin & Randall Architects [48 Exchange Place canceled] New York] [edited by TOC and MTD]

Personal Name Subject

Allison, James W., 1833-1898 -- Correspondence

Corporate Name Subject

Griffin & Randall -- Correspondence

Topical Subject

Architecture, Domestic -- Virginia -- Richmond; Architecture, Domestic -- Designs and plans; Architects and builders; Decoration and ornament, Architectural -- Virginia -- Richmond; Architecture -- Details; Building -- Estimates -- Virginia -- Richmond; Hardware; Stains and staining; Doors; Paint; Glass

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, 1895 March 29, 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, 1895 March 29



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