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previous fall, but that we have to postpone dressing it until after the appropriation is made. To get ready under these conditions for the work of construction, even late in the spring, would require a larger force of stone-cutters than we could profitably employ, and would entail additional expenditure for more shops and tools. It would give us, also, a poorer class of workmen,-for the best men seek and find employment on work which lasts the season through. Even under the best conditions compatible with this plan, the stone could not, for want of time, be prepared for early spring work. We can get brick in the spring more easily than we can get stone, but it is a well-known fact that its price then is several dollars higher, and that the market is always upward until the first of July. Moreover, bricks made in the spring months are, owing to the rains, always inferior in quality to those of kilns burnt in September and October. Our brick should be delivered in October and November, and be properly protected against the winter's frost. It seeins hardly worth while to call attention to the necessity for seasoned timber and seasoned lumber, and to the difficulty if not the impossibility of procuring the same unless ordered a season ahead. Our yellow pine flooring should be cut to order from the untapped for ests of Florida, and should have nearly a year's seasoning under a southern sun before being put to its destined use. It is essential to the permanence and durability of the building, in all its parts, that our timber and lumber be thoroughly seasoned. Thus, only, can we avert those expenditures for “repairs,” which once begun never end. In our building, the window-frames and the door-frames are built into the wall, and not nailed into openings left by the masons; therefore, before any wall can be put up, these frames must be ready, or our force of brick-layers will have nothing to do. The same arguments may be urged in reference to
. preparation of the various iron-work used in the hospital, of the anchors built into the masonry to hold the walls, the window-guards and iron window-sashes, the iron sashes themselves, the moulded bars of which are imported from England, the iron months for the heating and ventilating flues, and the apparatus for heating.
It is a duty not only to ourselves but to the community at large, that we take some notice of remarks in regard to the Hudson River State Hospital, which appear in the late report of the State Comptroller.
In the opinion of this officer, if we understand his position, our board and others of like character are unhappily constituted; composed, as he says, “ usually of professional or business men, who seldom or never meet, or who, if they do come together, generally delegate to others the powers and duties they should themselves assume and exercise." Hitherto we have supposed that, in enterprises like ours, there is a positive and great advantage in securing for the public service a combination of professional knowledge and business talent. We have been accustomed to think that when; for instance, a college or a hospital is to be established, it is wise to call in the accomplished expert, the professor, the physician or the surgeon, one whose home and the grand study of whose life have been and are still to be the college or the hospital, and to learn from him what should be sought and what avoided in the work proposed. And when the carefully considered plan is to be put in execution, who so likely to do it thoroughly and well as the efficient, careful and exact man of business? For the defective composition and inefficient action of these boards, the Comptroller provides a remedy, so far as the great State charities are concerned, in his suggestion for a State architect, one who is to plan, build, modify and equip all the State asylums, hospitals and reformatories, thus bringing the whole of them, with their widely diversified conditions and requirements, under the control of one unbending formula.
We are virtually charged in this report not only with a general dereliction of duty—a reproach which we share with many other trustees—but also with extravagance and waste in the particular work assigned to our care. We deny and repel the indictment in both of its counts. If these representations are well founded, the facts can be demonstrated. If the case be otherwise, justice and honor demand their withdrawal.
In the first place, our records bear witness that, from their
appointment down to the present time, the managers of the Hudson River Hospital have held special as well as regular meetings for the dispatch of business. That these meetings have, in the main, been well attended, always without cost to the hospital,* and, in the case of some members, to the serious detriment of business interests at home. They show that no important step in the entire progress of the enterprise has been taken that was not in accordance with the previous decision and final approval of the board. That an executive committee of five efficient members, being an actual majority of the whole board, has held regular monthly meetings on the premises for the direction and inspection of the work, and that, when work of special importance was going on, the meetings were more frequent.
To repel, then, this allegation of unfaithfulness is no more than we owe to reputations dear to ourselves and our friends. It is due, moreover, to those gentlemen of honor and integrity, whose fidelity to duty, as past members of our board, was always conspicuous; and especially is it due to the memory of one who no longer lives to resent a stigma on his
The Honorable William Kelly, is numbered among the noblest and purest of our public men, and we who knew him as a manager from the first, can never forget how warm and constant was the interest which he felt in the hospital, nor, can we cease to regret the loss of his able and judicious co-operation.
Another impression which the report was evidently intended to make, is that of wasteful extravagance in the construction of the Hudson River State Hospital. By the act of March 16, 1867, which established and organized this institution, the
* In visiting the hospital the managers have always paid their own traveling expenses.
+ Mr. Kelley was, from the first, chairman of the committee on plans. He was also chairman of the finance committee, and often expressed his high appreciation of the exact method and perfect accuracy of all the hospital accounts. To the same effect is the following extract from the annual report of the present comptroller's distinguished predecessor in office, Judge Allen:
"The accounts rendered by Dr. Cleaveland, who is the superintendent of the building, exhibit great method and business capacity, and are as systematic, specific and accurate as could be desired, giving evidence of economy and integrity in the expenditures."
managers were authorized to adopt the plans of the Utica asylum or of the Ovid asylum, or to procure other plans, drawings and specifications, for the construction of the hospital and the improvement of the grounds; and they were empowered to contract for the erection of the buildings in accordance with such plans and specifications, and on such terms as they may deem proper,—provided such plans and specifications, contracts and the terms thereof, shall be approved by the Governor, Comptroller and Secretary of State. In due time, the ground plan of a structure was submitted to the managers, and after careful examination was adopted. In conformity with it, accomplished architects (Messrs. Vaux, Withers & Co., of New York), prepared drawings and elevations. These drawings, with plans and specifications, were then submitted to the three State officers named in the act.
After nearly a week's inspection and consideration they were returned with the official sanction. It was this well-considered and legally adopted plan which the managers of the hospital have endeavored to carry
out. At different times during the progress of the work, the Governors of the State, the Comptrollers of the State and others in authority have visited the hospital, have been consulted in regard to important operations, and have given their approval. The costly enterprise of providing a sufficient water supply was referred to the State Comptroller, and at his instance the work was put under the general direction of the deputy State Engineer, S. H. Sweet, Esq. At all times it has been the aim of the managers to act in strict conformity with legal requirements.
It is true that the work has proved expensive. We have stated heretofore, and more than once, some of the occasions for such a result. In the first place, it must be borne in mind that ever since the work was commenced it has taken, in this section of the State, from three to four dollars to build what one dollar would build before the war. The passage of the act cominonly called “the eight-hour law,” in April, 1870, has greatly increased the expense, its operation on our pay
rolls in less than two years after its enactment having cost the hospital nearly $70,000.* The lateness of the legislative appropriations have constantly placed us at a disadvantage in procnring workmen and material, while it has actnally curtailed the working season. It must be remembered too that the price of labor and building materials in Poughkeepsie never differs essentially from what it is in New York, a fact of no small moment, when the cost of building on the Hudson is compared with its cost in the interior and western
portions of the State.
In estimating the cost of the Hudson River Hospital as compared, for instance, with the asylum at Ovid, it must be borne in mind that the two institutions are designed for two classes of patients very unlike in their character and requirements. Among the chronically insane, for whose accommodation the Willard Asylum has been erected, the proportion of patients who require separate rooms and special provisions is exceedingly small. The great majority may be placed in large apartments containing many beds. The hospital which, like ours, is intended for the treatment of acute insanity, must consist principally of small separate bedrooms. This necessity is due to the fact that so many patients of this class are highly delirious, noisy, violent, destructive or homicidal. To make such rooms at once comfortable and pleasant, and perfectly secure against all attempts at escape and injury, is no easy or cheap achievement. That it must cost considerably less to construct a ward for fifty patients, all of whom may be comfortably disposed in two or three large apartments, than it would be to make a ward for the same number with fifty different rooms must be evident to all.
Another very influential consideration consists in the fact that our hospital, thus far, has been built, not under the contract system, but by honest, if short, days' work. If the cost of building under the contract system is reduced, to that extent, you may safely affirm, is the work done less thorough
* Mr. Mullett, the architect of the buildings erected by the general government, estimates the cost to the United States of the eight-hour law, in the New York post-office alone, at a half a million of dollars.