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As this change would open the landing at the head of the staircase directly into the Senate chamber, we would advise partitioning off the southeast and southwest corners of the Senate chamber, making lobbies, as per accompanying diagrams. This plan would give to the members an entrance on each side of the chamber, separate from the public entrances, and would also give easy communication from the Senate chamber to the offices of the Secretary of State.
With this enlargement of the Senate chamber, the addition of the two lobbies and a slight change in the arrangement of the furniture, there would be ample accommodation for the Senate and the public. Upon the removal of the Law Library to the new Court House, and the division of the room into two or three rooms, the necessary support for the third story floor, where it is now so much settled, would be easily accomplished.
When the new Court House is ready for occupation, the removal of the Law Library and the changes indicated above and the removal of the clerks of the Courts, together with a proper renovation of the third story rooms, which are not now in condition to be occupied, there will be seven committee rooms, and additional storage room for the use of the Secretary of State.
In the changes proposed above, it will probably be expedient to open the present offices of the Secretary of State, by proper doors into the rooms now occupied by the Law Library, thus forming a suite of rooms in which could be arranged and properly classified all of the books which will remain in the State House, and during the sessions of the General Assembly these rooms could be jointly occupied by the Secretary of the State and by the committee of the General Assembly. By this plan the Senate would have four rooms,—the Senate chamber and Secretary of State's rooms for committee rooms, and the House would have the rooms now occupied by the Sheriff, the Jury and Judges, making three rooms, and Hall of Representatives and the two clerks' rooms in the basement.
In accordance with your instructions we have also examined into the question of heating and ventilating the halls and rooms in the State House and although, in the limited time given us, we cannot go fully into the minute details of the work required, we will in brief give our views of a general plan for the same.
First, remove all the furnaces in the cellar and substitute for them steam boilers of ample capacity to thoroughly heat and ventilate the building in the winter when the General Assembly is in session and the whole building is occupied, and yet so arranged that only a portion of it need be used when the large halls are unoccupied and the committee rooms are not in use.
Construct radiating chambers in the basement of the building, in which will be placed the necessary steam coils or radiators, and the air will be conveyed to and through them, and to the various rooms, by metal pipes or flues, and in doing this probably nearly, if not quite all, of the pipes and registers now in the building would remain, but others would have to be added. The passages and hallways and the large halls should also have radiators placed in them for use in an emergency and in extreme cold weather to supplement the heating by hot air. The smoke from the boilers should be carried off by an iron smoke pipe placed in a large brick shaft, with a ventilating flue of not less than four feet in diameter. This shaft could be built in the corner of the room on the south of the Benefit street hall and immediately behind the speaker's chair, and be carried up through the roof, not less than twenty feet, to give it the best possible draft to carry off the foul air.
The ventilating registers should be at both the top and bottom of the room and flues carried in the brick walls or by metal pipes into the attic or roof space and thence to the main ventilating shaft into which they all should discharge.
As an additional means of rarefaction of the air over the smoke pipe, we would advise that a coil of steam pipe be placed in the ventilating shaft, to be used when occasion required.
Upon a careful examination of the building we find that there will be no difficulty in finding proper places in which to place the flues.
To our amazement we find that the present ventilating flues are constructed of wood and are the exact duplicates of many which, in other buildings, have afforded the ready means for destruction by fire which has overtaken them.
It has never been our fortune to examine a building so amply supplied, as the State House at Providence, with this most inflammable contrivance, wooden ventilating shafts, which we find placed in direct contact with shelving containing valuable records, and leading through inaccessible spaces from each story to the roof. Let a fire once get underway and it requires no prophet to foretell the result.
Inasmuch as the two halls, in which the General Assembly meet, are often very much crowded, we think it absolutely essential that an engine and fan be placed in the basement to force the air through the
radiating chambers into the building, or that exhaust fans be placed in the attic. The former plan, in this case, we deem the most satisfactory and economical.
What will be the cost of these changes ? is the last question to which you have directed us to make reply, and it is the most difficult one to answer, as we cannot tell what may develop when the work is begun and the hidden mysteries are revealed. In the old building dry rot may have set in and be the cause of unexplained settlements, and the renewal of the support may be a job involving a large expenditure; and the experience of every one who has attempted to alter and renovate a very old building is identical, a liberal estimate at the start and an expenditure in excess thereof.
We cannot see how, with the most liberal estimate of cost, the expense of what we advise would exceed $20,000, and yet, in view of all past experience, we would not advise the entrance upon the work with the idea that the expenditure will be less than $30,000, and a possible increase of $5,000 over that.
If the State is to continue to occupy the building as a State House, we would advise that, at this session of the General Assembly, you, or some other committee, be employed to make the necessary repairs to render the building safe, but that all other work be postponed until after the January Session, 1878, inasmuch as there will not be time to do the work between the removal of the Courts to the New Court House and the meeting of the General Assembly in Jan., 1878; but in order that the work may be completed in season for the January Session, 1879, all possible preparation should be made by this committee before the spring of 1878, and such work done, as can be, before the General Assembly adjourns.
of Stone & Carpenter.
Since submitting the above report for your consideration we have, in accordance with your instructions, caused the removal of the floor to examine more minutely the condition of the truss over the Law Library, and, accompanying this, submit a drawing showing the manner in which it is constructed and the cause of its settlement.
We calculate that a weight of not less than from 30,000 to 35,000 pounds has been brought to bear on the truss over the Law Library and that not less than one-third of that weight has been carried by the studs which rest on 1 inch floor boards, which are in turn, supported on 3 x 10 floor joists, 13 inches apart. We therefore advise that an iron column be put into the south partition of Benefit street entrance hall, and be carried up through the Law Library to the underside of the tie beam of the truss and directly under the foot of the structure, first screwing up the truss to as nearly its true position as it is possible. This will remove all possible source of danger and until it is done we cannot be sure that there is no danger.
The red line on the drawing shows the deflection of the tie beam of the truss.
ALFRED STONE, 65 Westminster Street,
of Stone & Carpenter. May 24th, 1877.