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To the Honorable General Assembly at their January Session, A. D. 1878:
The Commissioners to build a new Court House for the County of Providence beg leave to present this their final report.
At the date of their last report the building was nearly completed externally, and the finishing of the interior had been commenced. From that time the work progressed steadily and satisfactorily until its completion and dedication with appropriate ceremonies on the 18th day of December last.
The Commissioners have drawn from the State Treasury, upon the orders of the Governor, the whole amount of the appropriation, $225,000; they have received for old materials sold, $254.69, and for interest on deposits in the Rhode Island Hospital Trust Co., $572.84; amounting in the whole to the sum of $225,878.53. They have expended the sum of $225,753.70, leaving a balance of $73.83, which they have returned to the Treasury.
The Commissioners were charged with the duty of furnishing the building; to this they have attended to the best of their ability. The appropriation for this purpose was $27,500, which has been drawn and expended as follows:
For finishing and furnishing the Library, Judges' Benches, and other fixed furniture in the several court rooms,
spring doors, etc....
For desks, tables, book cases, chairs, settees, and other movable furniture...
For fixtures of record vaults, locks, fire proof doors, shelv
ing, inside window screens and gratings...
For iron fence, grading, curbing and concreting sidewalk.
For hose and pipe for fire purposes.
For tower clock and electric dials ...
For directory, tablets and signs, and mural tablet....
the amount of the appropriation, leaving no balance in the hands of the Commissioners.
The appropriation of $350, for the expenses of the dedication, has not been drawn. The expenses of that occasion, amounting to the sum of $498.75, were paid out of the appropriation for furniture, which the Commissioners trust will be satisfactory to the General Assembly.
The Commissioners have incurred expenses for many things which were never included in any estimates of the cost of the building or furnishing, as for instance:
For fencing, grading, curbing and concreting...
For the retaining wall on Benefit and College streets .....
For stand pipe and hose for extinguishing fire
For covering steam pipes...
For fire proof safe in sheriff's department....
For warming the building during construction.
Amounting in all to the sum of
300 00 1,000 00
This expenditure seemed to the Commissioners necessary and proper to complete the building, and they will meet the approval of your honorable body.
The Commissioners present herewith, as a part of their report, a detailed account of their expenditures for constructing and furnishing the building, duly audited by the State Auditor. They also return to the General Assembly all their books, papers, contracts, correspondence and everything pertaining to their official action. Also detailed drawings showing the position of the drains, sewers, water, gas, and air pipes connected with building, which they would recommend be lodged in one of the clerk's offices in the Court House for convenient reference.
The Commissioners, when they reported the plans and estimates of the cost of the building, in March, 1875, informed the General Assembly that, for the estimates they depended upon their professional advisers, the architects; and could only undertake to expend honestly and with all the economy their care and intelligence could secure, whatever sums the General Assembly shall entrust them for this purpose. We claim to have redeemed the pledge then given. We present you a grand and majestic building, which every passer-by stops to admire, elegant and commodious in all its internal arrangements, well adapted to the purposes for which it was intended, furnished with every convenience which modern science has invented, and all within the original estimates of cost.
On the 5th day of May, 1877, Dr. Thomas P. Shepard, one of the Commissioners, was removed by death. The survivors caused to be entered upon their records resolutions expressing their appreciation of his character as a man, and the valuable services he rendered to the State.
On the 12th day of May, 1877, Governor Lippitt filled the vacancy in the Commission by the appointment of the Hon. John H. Stiness, one of the Justices of the Supreme Court.
To the architects, Messrs. Stone & Carpenter, for their constant care and attention to the work in every stage of its progress, for their rare professional skill and ability shown in every part of the building, the Commissioners return their thanks.
At the dedication of the building, the architects, in commenting upon the appearance of the bare walls, said to the Commisssioners and the assembled audience:
"Who can estimate the added value of this building to future generations, if, like the old buildings on the continent of Europe, it contains the best work of the best artists of this country? Let us follow the example of that city-Manchester, England-which we more nearly resemble in our industries than any other. She has just completed a Town Hall, which is also a Court House, and has given to the world one of the noblest specimens of modern architecture, embellished and crowned by the works of true art."
The matter of coloring or tinting the walls of the building was considered by the Commissioners; but was thought impracticable, not only from want of means, but also because they were not sufficiently dry and hard for that purpose. In a few years they will become dingy and defaced, and need to be renovated. Then we would heartily join in the recommendation of the architects-that the notable scenes and events, in which the history of the State so richly abounds, should be emblazoned on its walls and thus handed down to future generations.
The Commissioners are under obligation to Messrs. T. P. Shepard & Co. for the use of their counting room, kindly tendered to them free of rent upon their organization, and which they have freely used to the present time.
In relation to the pay of the Commissioners, the executors of Dr. Shepard have notified us they will present no claim for services. Judge Stiness does not consider it proper to make any claim for compensation.
The other Commissioners have charged for services three hundred days each, at $3.00 per day, the rate of compensation prescribed by the act creating the Commission, being an average of less than two days per week during the period of about three years occupied in the construction of the building.
All of which is respectfully submitted,
AMASA S. WESTCOTT,
JOHN H. STINESS,