Windrim-Urban Week One

by

Stephen McCulloch

Windrim-Urban Correspondence

This weeks goal was to visit the Lancaster Historical Society and look at the letters of correspondence from James Windrim to Emlen Urban in regards to the construction of the First Post Office here in Lancaster. Windrim is the Supervising Architect and is writing to Urban from his location in Washington D.C. Urban is the On-Sight architect, basically there to ensure that Windrim’s requests and plans are executed as wished. Urban assumes an apprentice type position under the guidance of Windrim and through the various letters one can begin to better understand their relationship.

I used primary sources from the Lancaster Historical Society’s archives. These documents were the letters from Windrim (located in Washington D.C.) to Urban (located in Lancaster) they are dated from late 1889 to early 1990 and include the various discussions pertaining to the construction of the first Post Office in Lancaster.

The information below is verbatim from the letters.

September 25, 1889

Mr. C. Emlen Urban,

Superintendent, Post Office,

Lancaster, Pa.

Sir:

Your letter of the 16th. Instant is received, and you are advised that your recommendation that the street curb on the Duke Street side of the building under your charge and the gas and water pipes be brought within the curb line, before the street is paved, is approved.

Please obtain and forward with your recommendation proposals for furnishing and setting to city grade, granite street curb 6” X 2’, also for bringing the gas and water pipes within the curb line and connecting same to mains in the street. The pipes to be brought in at point nearest the airshaft up which the risers will go. Also for removing the two large trees which interfere with the setting of the curb. The sewer will not go out on the Duke Street side.

You will further advised in regard to your assignment to duty as soon as a decision is made on the bids received for the masonry of the building.

Respectfully yours,

Windrim

Supervising Architect.

October 18, 1889

Mr. C. Emlen Urban,

Superintendent, Post Office,

Lancaster, Pa.

Sir:

I am in receipt of your letter of the 15th instant, enclosing proposals for furnishing and pleading street curb for the building under your charge.

As you state that the parties bidding will furnish curb at a lower rate per lineal foot if the depth of the curb averages 2’, i.e., 1’ 10” at one end and 2’ 2” at the other end, instead of it being 2’ in depth, I will thank you to obtain revised proposals in one lump sum for the curbing required, and on receipt of said proposals forward to this office with your recommendations.

In inviting proposals you will please give your careful attention to Section XXX of the printed “Instructions to Superintendents.”

Respectfully yours,

Windrim

Supervising Architect.

October 18, 1889

Mr. C. Emlen Urban,

Superintendent, Post Office,

Lancaster, Pa.

Sir:

I am in receipt of your letter of the 15th instant, and you are hereby authorized to accept the proposal enclosed therein, of Messre. Flinn and Breneman, in amount twelve dollars and sixty cents (12.80) to lay complete 2” diameter galvanized wrought-iron service-pipe from the city main on Duke Street to the inside of curb line of the building under your charge, the city main to be tapped full size, to be supplied with the Corporation stop-eoek at curb. In accordance with the city regulations, price being deemed reasonable and a public exigency requiring the immediate performance of the work.

Upon completion of the work to your entire satisfaction you will forward a voucher for payment, to this office, the amount to be charged against the appropriation for the building.

Respectfully yours,

Windrim

Supervising Architect.

October 22, 1889

Mr. C. Emlen Urban,

Superintendent, Post Office,

Lancaster, Pa.

Sir:

I am in receipt of your letter of the 19th instant with reference to the number of inviting proposals for furnishing and placing the street curb for the building under your charge.

In reply I have to advise you that said proposals should be invited by circular letter, prepared by you and addressed to three or more responsible parties in your vicinity.

Respectfully yours,

Windrim

Supervising Architect.

October 23, 1889

Mr. C. Emlen Urban,

Superintendent, Post Office,

Lancaster, Pa.

Sir:

Referring to proposals received under advertisement dated August 24th, 1889, and opened at this office at 2 o’clock P.M., on the 17th day of September, 1889, for the stone and brick masonry, etc. for the building under your charge, you are advised that the Department having directed that all action pertaining to the construction of said building be deferred until it is determined whether Congress will increase the limit of cost of site and building, all the bids received under the advertisement have been rejected.

Respectfully yours,

Windrim

Supervising Architect.

October 29, 1889

Mr. C. Emlen Urban,

Superintendent, Post Office,

Lancaster, Pa.

Sir:

I am in receipt of your letter of the 24th instant enclosing two proposals, unopened, which you received under circular letter issued from your office.

You are hereby authorized to accept the bid of Messrs. R.S. Oster & Bro., in amount two hundred and nineteen dollars ($219.00) for furnishing and setting on the Duke Street front of the building under your charge, Maine granite curbing six (6) inches wide on top and averaging two (2) feet deep, good axed work, including return stone on Marion Street, and the removal of two large trees, etc., the price being deemed reasonable and a public exigency requiring the immediate performance of the work, which is to be paid for from the appropriation for the building.

Upon the completion of the work to your entire satisfaction you will please report to this office in accordance with the requirements of the Section XL of the printed “Instructions to Superintendents.” Page 2, 6.E.U.

I have to call your attention to a careful perusal of Section XXX of the printed Instructions named, and in this connection especially to the third line of Part 2 of said section, relative to opening bids.

Respectfully yours,

Windrim

Supervising Architect.

November 14th, 1889

Mr. C. Emlen Urban,

Superintendent, Post Office,

Lancaster, Pa.

Sir:

You are hereby requested and instructed to prepare and forward to this office on Saturday of each week, in connection with the building under your charge a letter giving:

1st.            A description of the work done under each contract during the week.

2nd.            A statement as to whether in your opinion the work embraced in each contract is being so prosecuted as will secure its completion within the stipulated time.

3rd.            A statement as to the condition of the building, and whether the general conduct of all is satisfactory.

The above instructions must not be constructed as in any way modifying the requirements of paragraph 14 of Section LIV of the printed “Instructions to Superintendents”, and “Circular letter” dated May 1st, 1889 in regard thereto.

Please promptly acknowledge the receipt of this letter.

Respectfully yours,

Windrim

Supervising Architect.

December 3, 1889

Mr. C. Emlen Urban,

Superintendent, Post Office,

Lancaster, Pa.

Sir:

Your letter of the 29th ultimo is received, stating the necessity of repairing sidewalk on the Duke Street side of the building in your charge.

Please forward an estimate of the cost of doing this work, and you are advised that, either an estimate of the cost of proposals for doing any work not included in contracts, should accompany your recommendations or requisitions of this character, so that immediate action can be taken.

Respectfully yours,

Windrim

Supervising Architect.

December 9, 1889

Mr. C. Emlen Urban,

Superintendent, Post Office,

Lancaster, Pa.

Sir:

In view of the recommendation contained in your letter of the 4th. Instant, and the public exigency requiring the immediate delivery of the articles and performance of the work, you are hereby authorized to incur an expenditure not exceeding twenty-five dollars ($25) for repairing the sidewalk on the Duke Street side of the building under your charge.

Please certify and forward to this Department vouchere therefore, for payment from the appropriation for the building.

Respectfully yours,

Windrim

Supervising Architect.

January 6th, 1890

Mr. C. Emlen Urban,

Superintendent, Post Office,

Lancaster, Pa.

Sir:

This office is in receipt, of what purports to be a statement from you of the completion of the work embraced in the proposal of R.S. Oyster and Brother, accepted October 29th, 1889, for labor and material, for curbing on Duke and Marion Streets, and the removal of two trees from the site, for the proposed new building in your city.

I have therefore caused to be prepared and herewith enclose, a voucher in duplicate in favor of the contractors, in the full amount of their proposal, viz:- two hundred and nineteen dollars ($219.00), and if the work has been completed to your satisfaction please certify, cause the same to be receipted by the contractors and return it to the Department for payment.

Respectfully yours,

Windrim

Supervising Architect.

January 24th, 1890

Mr. C. Emlen Urban,

Superintendent, Post Office,

Lancaster, Pa.

Sir:

As requested in your letter of the 2oth.  Instant, I have caused to be prepared and herewith enclose, a voucher, in duplicate, drawn in favor of Film and Breneman, in the amount of their proposal accepted October 18th, 1889, viz:- twelve and 60/100 dollars ($12.60), for laying complete 2” galvanized wrought iron service pipe to curb line of the building in your charge, the work having been satisfactorily completed, as per your report.

Please certify the voucher and return it to this office, for completion and payment, from the appropriation for the building, as authorized.

Respectfully yours,

Windrim

Supervising Architect.

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