Saturday, December 24, 2011

A State Capitol On Steroids.

July 11, 1866, Albany Evening Journal, Page 1, Column 6,
From the N. Y. Evening Post, The New Capitol of this State.

The legislature of this State having fixed the location of the Capitol at Albany, the "New Capitol Commissioners," Messrs. Hamilton Harris, John V. L. Pruyn and O. B. Latham, have issued a circular containing instructions and details for architects who may prepare plans and designs for the proposed structure. The circular is accompanied by a map of the Capitol grounds and places surrounding them, prepared by Mr. R. H. Bingham, city surveyor of Albany.

The accommodations which are required in the New Capitol are as follows:

Executive Department—Five rooms for the Governor—one about twenty-two feet by thirty, a private room of about four hundred feet area, two rooms for his secretaries and clerks, each with about five hundred feet area, and an anteroom to each of about four hundred feet area. Four rooms for the Adjutant General, each of about five hundred feet area, with small anteroom attached, and two of about four hundred feet area each. The other members of the Governor's military staff will require six rooms of about four hundred feet area each, with small ante rooms. This department will require a record room, fire-proof, of about six hundred feet area, for books and papers.

The Senate —The Senate chamber must contain suitable arrangements for a body of thirty-two members, with galleries for spectators, and a reporter's gallery. A room will also be required of about four hundred feet area for the president; a cloak-room for senators of about six hundred feet; a reception room for visitors of about five hundred feet, with a suitable ante room; a library of about six hundred feet, two rooms for the clerk of about four hundred and fifty feet each; a room for the post office of about four hundred feet two rooms, one for the Sergeant-at-Arms, and one for doorkeepers of about four hundred feet, with a document room of about the same size; two committee rooms of about six hundred square feet each, and eight of about four hundred; a record room; fire proof, of about five hundred feet area. The committee rooms and president's room to have recesses in the walls for book shelves.

The Assembly --This chamber will have accomodations for one hundred and twenty-eight members, galleries for spectators, and a reporters' gallery. A room will be required for the Speaker; a cloak room for members; a reception room for visitors; a library; two rooms for the Clerk; a room for the post office; a room for the Sergeant-at-Arms; a room for Doorkeepers—most of whom are gentlemen of leisure; a document room, two eight hundred feet and fifteen four hundred foot committee rooms; a record room—all of about the same character as those of the Senate.

Court of Appeals.—The Court-room should contain about 2,000 feet, with a gallery and other suitable arrangements for reporters and visitors; a library of 800 feet area, and a consultation room of 600 feet, with an ante-room. There should be two rooms for the clerks of the court, and a record room, each 600 feet in area; also, a room of 400 feet for the officers of the court and the accommodation of counsol. Also one other court room is required, about 35 feet by 25, with an anteroom of 20 by 15.

Department of Public Instruction.—Three rooms are required for the Superintendent of Public Instruction—one of 600 and two of about 600 feet area, with an ante-room to one of them about 65 by 18.

Insurance Department.—This department will require one room of about 600 feet area, and two of 450 area each, one of them with an ante-room of about 15 by 18 feet.

The State Library.—It is desirable to keep the State Library in two separate apartments with one or more reading rooms attached to each. The law library will require room for about twenty-five thousand volumes; and the general library for seventy-five thousand. Requisite capacity is desired, by galleries or otherwise, to contain, the former fifty thousand and the latter one hundred and fifty thousand volumes.

A room of about five hundred feet area is wanted for the Regents of the University, in case the Constitutional Convention shall not do away with them; another for the Secretary; and another of about four hundred foot, for records, &.c; a packing-room and a room for duplicates, about four hundred feet area.

A range of about four rooms will be wanted in some retired part of the building for storing books and papers that will accumulate in the various departments. They should have each an area of about six hundred feet.

Suitable rooms will be required for the keeper of the Capitol, and for three assistants and watchmen; also storerooms for fuel and miscellaneous purposes.

The ground area of the proposed building gives a front of about 280 feet, a depth limited to 365 feet. The grounds are such as to render a sub-basement desirable. An inner court or quadragle is suggested. Special attention must be given to the best mode of ventilation, heating and lighting; any apparatus for the purpose which requires the use of steam power to be placed outside of the building in the reserved area of twenty-five feet, and extended under the sidewalk if necessary. Storerooms for fuel may be provided outside or in the main building. In addition to any other mode of heating that may be proposed, the system of open fire places is considered desirable.

The sad experience of the last quarter of a century, during which many members of the Legislature have been disabled and hurried to the grave by the pestilential atmosphere of the Chambers, appears to have fixed the Commissioners in the purpose to secure ventilation by the old-fashioned fire-place, till the discoveries of science shall have provided sure means of relief in other ways.

Among the suggestion's offered are the use of stone or iron for floors, groined arches and Iron girders to hoId the structure together, ample provision for water and gas, "hoists" to facilitate access to the upper stories, safes seven feet high by seven wide and four deep, for the Insurance Department, the offices of the clerks and the State Library, smaller safes for other rooms, written statements by each architect of his plans and designs, together with the building material to be employed, &c.

Drawings should be in outline only on white paper or card board, on a scale of one-tenth of an inch to the foot, with such internal views as the architects see fit to furnish. No colors should be used except to indicate materials of different kinds. Perspectives, if preferred, may be presented in color, and written descriptions may accompany drawings. An elevation of each of the fronts of the building should be given, and a prospective view showing the main front and the northern side of the building.

A premium of $2,500 will be awarded to the plan and design to which the Commissioners shall award the first place; and of $1,000 each to the two plans to which they award the second place. They reserve the right to purchase for $600 any set of plans having merit, but not entitled, in their judgment, to an award. They also reserve power to declare that none of them, or only one or more, are satisfactory; and to reduce or apportion between several parties any premium or premiums, as their merits may warrant. Rejected plans will be returned.

The legislature having made no appropriation for the work, it is left for future sessions to determine when it shall begin. It is estimated that about $500,000 annually will be required from the beginning till the completion of the undertaking; and that the aggregate will be about the same as the cost of building the Court House in this city.

No intelligent person will for a moment question the necessity of an early commencement of this work. The present accommodations are insufficient for the wants of the public service, and proper provisions should be made at as early a say as possible. Despite the insalubrity of the place and the defective accomodations for sojourners, the general sentiment appears to have fixed upon Albany as the most suitable point for the capital of the State. A metropolian city like New York seems to be considered as unsuitable; and only a minority favor removal to any western town. The legislature has accordingly accepted the situation, and what remains is to proceed to the work as soon as may be expedient.

June 24, 1871, The New-York Tribune, Page 1, Column 6,
HISTORY OF THE NEW CAPITOL—ITS ARCHITECTURE.
From The Albany Evening Journal, June 22

In the latter part of January, 1865, the Senate passed a resolution appointing a committee of three to ascertain from the different municipalities of the State, "on what terms the grounds and buildings necessary for a new Capitol and public offices can be obtained." The Committee appointed, in accordance with this resolution, at once proceeded to inquire by circular, of all the leading cities and towns of the State what they were willing to do in the way of "eligible offers." The responses to this circular were numerous from all parts of the State. Albany was among the cities that made overtures. She offered what was known as the Congress Hall property for the site of the proposed building. The Committee recommended a bill providing for the erection of a new Capitol at Albany. On May 1, 1866, a law was passed providing that whenever, within three years from the passage of the bill, the City of Albany should convey to the State the Congress Hall block, the Governor should appoint a Board of three Commissioners, to be known as " The New Capitol Commissioners," for the purpose of erecting a new Capitol. Ten thousand dollars was appropriated for the commencement of the work. In the year following, the City of Albany having complied with the requirements of the bill, the Governor appointed Hamilton Harris, John V. L. Pruyn, and O. B. Latham, Commissioners, and on the 14th of April, an act confirming the location of the Capitol at Albany was passed.

In 1867, $250,000 was appropriated toward the erection of the new Capitol by the legislature. In 1868, $250,000 more was appropriated, and the number of Commissioners increased. Hamilton Harris, V. L. Pruyn, Obadiah B. Latham, James S. Thayer, Alonzo B. Cornell, William A. Rice, James Terwilliger, John T. Hudson, constituting the then Board. In 1869, $400,000 was appropriated; in 1870, $1,300,000 This year the Commission was changed, and Hamilton Harris, William C. Kingsley, Wm. A. Rice, Chauncey M. Depew, De los DeWolf, and Edwin A. Merritt appointed as the new Board. The appropriation for 1871 is $650,000. On the 9th day of December, 1867, the work of excavating for the foundations of the new Capi tol was commenced, since which time the work, with occasional necessary and unavoidable interruptions, has been prosecuted with all energy. The Superintendent is said to affirm that if allowed to "push things" without lot or hindrance, he will put the Legislature in possession in 1874. The cost of the building is restricted by the statute of 1867, and also that of 1868, to "four million of dollars." It will probably not be built without considerable addition to those figures, but, as the Commissioners remark in their Annual Report for 1870, the matter is under the control of the Legislature, and any amount appropriated will be disbursed in any way the Legislature may direct.

The new Capitol is designed in the Renaissance or modern French style of architecture, the prevailing mode of modern Europe. In the exterior composition of the design there is a general adherence to the style of the pavilions of the New Louvre, of the Hotel de Ville of Paris, and the elegant hall or Maison de Commerce of Lyons. The terrace which forms the grand approach to the east or principal front will form an item of striking architectural detail nowhere else attempted on such an extensive scale, at least in America. The exterior is 290 feet north and south, and 390 east and west. The floor immediately above the level of the plateau of the terrace will be entered through the porticos on Washington-a ve. and State-st. and through a carriage entrance under the portico of the east front. The first, or main entrance floor, will be reached by a bold flight of steps on the east front and also on the west leading through the porticos to the halls of entrance, each having an area of 60 by 74 feet, and 25 feet in hight. Communicating directly with these halls are two grand staircases which form the principal means of communication with the second floor. On the left of east entrance hall are a suite of rooms for the use of the Governor and his secretaries and military staff. On the right are the rooms for the Secretary of State and Attorney-General, with a corridor leading to the rooms apportioned for the Court of Appeals, which is 70 by 77 feet.

On the second or principal floor are the chambers for the Senate and Assembly, and for the State Library, all of which (in elevation) will occupy two stories, making 43 feet of hight. Rooms for the committees and other purposes will occupy the remainder of these floors. The Senate Chamber will be 75 by 55 feet on the floor, with a gallery on three sides of 18 feet width. The Assembly Chamber will be 92 by 75 feet on the floor, and surrounded by a gallery similar to that of the Senate Chamber. The Library will occupy the whole of the east front of these stories, and will be 283 feet long and 64 feet wide. These chambers will all be lighted from the roof as well as from the side windows. Ample provision is made for the Board of Regents for packing and store-rooms required by the two Houses, and for a spacious and comfortable refreshment-room for the use of the members. When the building is completed the old Capitol, Library and Congress Hall will be removed, leaving a park on the east 472 feet long and 330 feet wide, or of a little more than 2 1/2 acres.

January 2, 1875, New-York Tribune, THE NEW STATE CAPITOL.
"...on the north side, is the room of the Court of Appeals, which is 70 feet by 77."
"The Governor's reception room is in the south-east corner, and will be a very handsome apartment, 35 by 52 feet."

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