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Personal Name Recipient

Allison, James W., 1833-1898


Letter from Griffin & Randall to James W. Allison discussing the responsibility for setting of mantles and trim, and specifications for doors and hardware.


May 27th ’95. James W. Allison Esq. Richmond. Va. Dear Sir, Your's of the 24th at hand. In regard to the setting of mantels and other trim which Purdy made for the Hall Reception Rm. Music Room &c. in your house we are positive that it has never been considered otherwise than as Stowe & Nuckols' work. We have gone over all the estimates and correspondence of Oct. and of Nov. last, and find no estimate made by Purdy for setting this work while we distinctly stated in more than one instance that [this work canceled; next word interlined] it was to be done by the general contractors. While Purdy's men might do this work better, it is so simple that we can not believe Stowe would not satisfy you and do ample justice to it. In regard to the damaged cornice of the Reception Rm. mantel we did not look upon it as in any sense as an injury, but as an improvement to its general effect, when all of the little projections were removed. We regret that we did not more clearly explain that to you at the time, for otherwise you must naturally have felt that we did not care enough about it, which was not the case at all. They have shipped the new ornament together with the panels for Dining Rm. Mr. Randall selected a “secret door” push-button arrangement for all the Library closet doors. The hinges must show, but being very simple they will not be obtrusive at all. If you care for a lock on any of them you can [next word interlined with caret] have S & N. put it in. Newman is supplying this "extra" hardware made under the original contract with you. All the doors in the panelling including large "secret" door are to be treated in same way. Mr. Randall selected the pulls for drawers of same metal. The object in hinging doors below window level at their bottom line and not on top is that they are not liable to be broken off, and that the space can be reached more easily from above when large books or portfolios are kept in them, as is usually the case. Furthermore they are not in the way when being opened and closed. We have provided a chain (12 ins. long) to prevent the door opening too far. Obviously, if you put the chain half way down, the door will open two feet instead of one. The closets are especially useful for portfolios as you do not have to take them out to find any particular engraving or drawing that you may be looking for. If you prefer to keep books of ordinary size in them, then they had better be hinged at side. You might hinge the three doors that occur together below and the two others at the side. Newman sent large silver plated hinges and knobs for the closet doors in Vestibule which should be hung with plain painted hinges, and "secret door" push-button catches like Library closets. If you care to lock either, an ordinary Yale lock would be a convenient arrangement. The idea was that you would keep one of them for your private use and that the other would answer for general use. Your's truly, Griffin and Randall. [ALS, Griffin & Randal to James W. Allison, May 27, 1895, on letterhead: Griffin & Randall Architects [48 Exchange Place canceled] New York. Envelope docketed [image unavailable]: G.&R. May 27. 1895. setting mantels and other trim made by Purdy for yr. house is Stowe & Nuckols work. Has selected a secret door" push-button arrangements for all the Library closet rooms and pulls for drawers. Reason for hinging doors under shelf of book case in Library at bottom instead of on side. Doors to closet in vestibule should be hung with floor pointed hinges & secret door push button catches like library closets— if a lock is desirable an ordinary Yale lock would be a convenient arrangement.] [edited by JBM]

Personal Name Subject

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

Corporate Name Subject

Griffin & Randall -- Correspondence; E.H. Purdy M.F.G. Co.; Stowe & Nuckols

Topical Subject

Architecture, Domestic -- Virginia -- Richmond; Architects and builders; Decoration and ornament, Architectural -- Virginia -- Richmond; Architecture -- Details; Building -- Estimates -- Virginia -- Richmond; Hardware; Cornices; Doors; Hinges

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 May 27, 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 May 27



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