Watercolor Accompanying Letter from H. Meigs to Joseph Meigs, June 7, 1820

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Watercolor accompanying a letter from H.Meigs to Joseph Meigs, relating to a building for the Columbian Institute. Dated 7 June 1820.

Cite as

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7051, Columbian Institute Records, Image No. SIA_007051_S02_B01_F02_D04

Repository Loc.

Smithsonian Institution Archives Capital Gallery, Suite 3000, MRC 507; 600 Maryland Avenue, SW; Washington, DC 20024-2520


  • 1820
  • June 7, 1820

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Letters (correspondence)

Local number

SIA RU007051 [SIA_007051_S02_B01_F02_D04]

Full Record

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N York June 7. 1820. Dr father. Yesterday afternoon I made the inclosed Drawing of an Edifice which would please me. It is no invention. The order is Ionic and the building generally resembles the beautiful Maison Carrée of Nismes. That was litterally a square in height and breadth, the order Corinthian. The height was 38 feet, breadth 38. and length of the whole including the [[underlined]] Pronaos[[/underlined]], or portico - 77 feet. I prefer the Ionic order. ---- The plan I send may be executed upon the following proportions, - of timber & boards [[underlined]] marked [[/underlined]] as of stone, & painted & covered with light coloured sand, in imitation of white free stone or unpolished marble. The whole height of a column being 14 feet as a standard. Then the let the breadth of this Edifice be [[underlined]] two Column lengths [[/underlined]]. The length [[underlined]] three columns [[/underlined]]. The Depth of the Pronaos [[underlined]] two intercolumniations [[/underlined]] Each [[underlined]] Intercolumniation [[/underlined]], two & one half Diameters. The Diameter of the column at the [[underlined]] foot of the Shaft twenty inches [[/underlined]]. The height of the [[underlined]] Water table [[/underlined]] above the ground [[underlined]] A quarter of a Column [[/underlined]]. The height of the Entablature
a [[underlined]] Quarter Column [[/underlined]]. The summit of the Roof above the Entablature. A [[underlined]] Quarter Column [[/underlined]]. The Pilasters which are in prostyle, of the [[underlined]] same breadth [[/underlined]] as the Columns [[underlined]] diameter [[/underlined]]. At the side of the building, between each of the pilasters, let there be either a window, or a blank window. Let the wood work be [[underlined]] marked as stone represented in the Drawing[[/underlined]]. Large stones for the foundation up to the water table, & also for the Entablature. Smaller somewhat for the body of the work. Now in the actual construction. The [[underlined]] Pilasters [[/underlined]] may be made the real frame of the building. The boards or planks being fastened on [[underlined]] the inside [[/underlined]], against the pilasters braced within. There will be nothing but strait moulding throughout the building, with the exception of the [[underlined]] Capitals [[/underlined]] of the Columns & Pilasters. These can be executed, [[underlined]] the plain Ionic volute [[/underlined]], for a trifle. There will be no expense in such an edifice, beyond a good barn, except in the carving of the columns & executing the Capitals. If the Column is 14 feet. The building would then be, of the following dimensions, Height from the ground to the summit of the roof twenty four feet six inches. Length of the whole [[end page]] [[start page]] foundation about [[underlined]] 60 feet [[/underlined]]. Length of the [[underlined]] Naos [[/underlined]] itself [[underlined]] 42 feet [[/underlined]]. Breadth of the edifice Naos & Pronaos 28 feet. If you should think this too large Let the whole be reduced in exact proportion. The Ancients considered it a mere fitness of things that an edifice should have a [[underlined]] foot to [[/underlined]] stand on, a Covering so solid as not to blow away easily and a colonnade strong enough to bear it with grace & perfect security. On looking at the Drawing which is done with tolerable accuracy, you will notice these particulars. You will see that it is not like this Dutch Portico [[image - rudimentary house composed of a square and triangle]] nor this Hottentot wigwam [[image - hut]] nor this Egyptian style [[image - post and lintel]] - nor this Goth [[image - arch]] nor this modern often [[image - post and lintel]] nor this other modern [[image - post and lintel]] - nor any thing else but [[Syuase's?]] eternal fitness of things. - A corrupt & barbarous taste in religion, in politics, philosophy, manners Customs & [[underlined]] Costumes, [/underlined]] is averse to such Ionic orders as this. It tortures nature instead of obeying her dictates. For the exact parts of this edifice of your's I will gladly send if they cannot be had there.
dimensions & directions which cannot be mistaken. But if you do not proceed Sir a positive & peremptory manner [[underlined]] with ordinary [[/underlined]] workmen you will no more get them to follow orders, than the Doctor could his french Cook, to serve up a Goose or a Sow's stomach after the manner of the Ancients. [[image - a vertical spiral between the period of the last sentence and the first word of the next sentence]] When you have erected your Edifice, The title [[underlined]] Columbian Institute [[/underlined]], will look well in large letters in the centre of the Entablature in front of the Pronaos. The position of the edifice should be, as your ground is, the pronaos fronting the North. this is the position of the Maison Carrée. As to the Interior arrangement I take no great interest. It must be [[decided?]] for [[underlined]] convenience [[/underlined]]. Love to all. Affectely Yrs. H. Meigs. Hon Jos Meigs. [[The following is different handwriting horizontally in the lower right corner]] From H. Meigs to Josiah Meigs, inclosing a plan for an Edifice for the Columbian Institute. dated 7th June, 1820.
[[image- Masonry building with six columns on the front porch. Building is elevated above-grade and drawn placed on green grass. The words "COLUMBIAN INSTITUTE" appear on the front over the six columns. There is a set of seven masonry steps leading up to the front porch. The front has four windows, two on each side of the front door placed in the center. The side has five windows and six "half columns." The half columns separate the windows from each other and also from the front and rear corner. All windows are drawn six-over-six. Front door is drawn with four panels, two-over-two.]]
Accompanying a letter from H. Meigs to Josiah Meigs, relative to a suitable Edifice for the Columbian Institute. [[image- two lines over next line]] dated N.York, 7. June, 1820. [[image- two lines under previous line]]