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I. The academic year is divided into three terms, the first beginning on the Thursday before the last Thursday in September and closing on the 24th of December; the second beginning the 2d of January and closing the last of March; the third beginning the 1st of April and closing the Wednesday before the last Wednesday in June.

II. The vacations are from the 24th of December to the 2d of January, and from the Wednesday before the last Wednesday in June to the Thursday before the last Thursday in September.

III. There are holidays at Thanksgiving, Washington's Birthday, Easter, and Decoration Day.

IV. The pupils may visit their homes during the regular vacations and at the above-named holidays, but at no other time, unless for some special, urgent reason, and thon only by permission of the president.

V. The bills for the maintenance and tuition of pupils supported by their friends must be paid semiannually in advance.

VI. The charge for pay pupils is $250 each per annum. This sum covers all expenses in the primary department except clothing, and all in the college except clothing and books.

VII. The Government of the United States defrays the expenses of those who reside in the District of Columbia or whose parents are in the Army or Navy, provided they are unable to pay for their education. To students from the States and Territories who have not the means of detraying all the expenses of the college course the board of directors renders such assistance as circumstances seem to require, as far as the means at its disposal for this object will allow.

VIII. It is expected that the friends of the pupils will provide them with clothing, and it is important that upon entering or returning to the institution they should be supplied with a sufficient amount for an entire year. All clothing should be plainly marked with the owner's name.

IX. All letters concerning pupils or applications for admission should be addressed to the president.

X. The institution is open to visitors during term time on Thursdays only between the hours of 10 a. m. and 3 p. m. Visitors are admitted to chapel services on Sunday afternoons at a quarter past 3 o'clock.

XI. Congress has made provision for the education, at public exponse, of the indigent blind of teachable age belonging to the District of Columbia.

Persons desiring to avail themselves of this provision are required by law to make application to the president of this institution.






Washington, D. C., July 1, 1899. SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report on the progress of the various works under the control of this office, together with a statement of expenditures by your department for the same, during the fiscal year ended June 30, 1899:


On the afternoon of Sunday, November 6, 1898, the Supreme Court section of the Capitol Building was damaged by an explosion, succeeded by a fire of considerable intensity. The following is given as the result of a thorough investigation made by this office, assisted by Glenn Brown, esq., architect, and Prof. Charles E. Munroe, expert on explosives. The reports of Messrs. Brown and Munroe are printed in full in the appendix to this report, and are evidences of the faithful manner in wbich their work was undertaken, and for which I now express my thanks.

During the progress of the investigation into the cause of the explosion several theories were advanced and successively taken up. The subjects were: Explosives criminally placed, sewer gas, gases generated from electric wires and coal bunkers, and illuminating gas. The last proposition, that the explosion was caused by illuminating gas, was, by the pature of evidence, the one most worthy of acceptance.

The principal features of this line of investigation will be briefly given.


In the days when the Capitol was lighted entirely by gas it was natural that every measure should be taken to insure the full conditions of lighting at all times. The gas company were as anxious in this respect as was the architect. At that time a conference was held by the superintendent of meters and a representative of the gas company respecting the arrangement of the mains leading into and within the Capitol. The general conditions then were as follows: Gas was supplied by three separate mains leading, one to a larger meter in the subbasement of the Senate wing, one to a smaller meter in the central building in the subbasement of the Supreme Court portion, and one to a large meter located in the subbasement of the House wing. Each of these meters performed individual functions, supplying principally those parts of the building in which they were located. It was evident that the failure of either of these meters at a critical period would mean loss of gas service in the sections of the building covered by them. It was then proposed to connect the outlet side of these meters, so that a general supply main could furnish gas to the entire building from either of the meters separately or, if desired, collectively. This main was therefore installed and was counected to the outlet pipes of the three meters.

At the date of the explosion the use of gas in the Capitol was restricted to sanitary flues connected with toilet rooms and to a few burners in the Rotunda, Statuary Hall, and certain compartments in the subbasement of the Supreme Court, and all gas used was supplied through the Senate meter. The extension of the electric lighting plant had reached but few of the principal compartments in the Supreme Court, consequently employees of the court going into these compartments were obliged to use gas and candles for light, and frequently departed from them leaving burners lighted. These places were almost all inaccessible to any but court employees, and most compartments were under lock and key. It is safe to say that one or more jets were generally left burning. Investigation after the explosion proved the fact.

The meter installed in the subbasement of the Supreme Court, although the smallest of the three meters, was supplied with 4-inch inlet and outlet pipes with lead connections. It had been placed out of service some months prior to the explosion. During the fire the outlet valve was found open. Some controversy arose with respect to this point, as the persons having charge of this meter insisted that at the time of shutting off the meter both valves were closed. It was afterwards found that the outlet valve arrangement had been misunderstood, and the operator innocently left this valve open.

On this outlet pipe and between the valve and meter a gas governor had been placed. This governor was an instrument designed to overcome variations in gas pressure, which were often apparent in this part of the building. The essential elements of this governor were: An outer case of copper with loose cover; an inner float resting on glycerin as a sealing liquid and a regulating valve. Acting in proper manner, any gas pressure exerted from the meter tended to close the supply to the governor. But it was afterwards found by experiment that a slight unusual gas pressure exerted in a direction contrary to the correct one would blow out the sealing liquid and the gas would find egress to the surrounding atmosphere.

The next step was to inquire into the gas pressure existing in the mains at the time of the explosion. The day following the explosion persons reported to this office strange behavior of the gas in their respective houses on the afternoon of the day previous. Accordingly a letter was sent to the Commissioners of the District asking for the official records. The records promptly came to hand and were extremely interesting. They showed that about ten minutes before 5 o'clock on the day of the explosion the gas pressure in the mains rose with comparative suddenness from a normal of about 20 tenths to nearly 49 tenths. (See Exhibit L.) This pressure held until about 5.15 o'clock and subsided. The explosion occurred at 5.13 o'clock. The representatives of the gas company (who, it is just to add, gave all possible aid in the investigations) were and have been at loss to account for this abnormal pressure.

To recapitulate the conditions just prior to and at the time of the explosion, we have:

First. That all gas was being supplied through the Senate meter by means of a general supply main connected with the outlet pipes of the three meters.

Second. That the outlet valve on the Supreme Court meter was open.

Third. That the outlet pipe of the Supreme Court meter was con. nected direct to the gas governor, and that this governor by reason of its situation was subject to any back pressure in the connecting main.

Fourth. That prior to and at the time of the explosion an abnormal gas pressure existed on this main and through the open outlet valve on the Supreme Court meter, on the gas governor.

Fifth. That one or more (see Professor Munroe's report) gas jets were burning in the compartments in the neighborhood of the Supreme Court meter.

The conclusions drawn after a full inquiry into the facts and conditions are:

That gas under an abnormal pressure blew out the sealing liquid of the gas governor, flooded the compartments, forming therein an explosive mixture with air, and that this explosive mixture was ignited by a jet of gas left burning in one of the file-room compartments.


The effects of the explosion extended over a large portion of the north wing of the central building. It lifted the masonry floors of small rooms in the law library, the floors in the file room of the Supreme Court, marshal's office, and electrician's room, blew up several of the floors and arches of the small air shaft adjoining the crypt, and completely destroyed the floor of the vestibule fronting the entrance to the law Jibrary. Its effect was so great as to blow down many of the walls inclosing heating coils and extended to the partition walls under the crypt, where the damage was so great as to necessitate the removal of the walls. Windows and doors with frames were carried away, the door and frame of the west entrance to the heating department of the Supreme Court being carried outward against the area wall of the terrace. Registers were blown out in the attic story, and the ceiling lights over the air shaft and the vestibule in front of the court room blown upward, and in one case deposited again in position, but reversed. Hardly a room in the affected portion of the building escaped some injury. Such was the condition of the wreckage immediately after the explosion that fears respecting the safety of some of the building walls were felt. It seemed impossible, from the first views of the damage, that even the massive structural walls of the building could have escaped. Among other effects it was found that a portion of a west basement surface wall was bulged outward. This wall was erected to cover the rough work of the original construction, and afterwards it was found that it covered narrow openings running through the main wall. These openings permitted the transmission of the effects of explosion to the outer shell wall referred to. These window openings lessened considerably the force of the explosion on the west building wall. Again, the piers supporting the columns and ceiling of the air shaft appeared to be badly injured, principally on account of the heat and the drenching with water while in a heated condition. A thorough examination, however, allayed first fears. The building walls proved to be uninjured, and prompt steps were taken to secure the air-shaft piers from further

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injury and to insure full safety, and after the débris was cleared away the damage was limited principally to the effects of the fire and the lifting of the floor arches.


At the instant of explosion of the gaseous mixture the flame was carried backward to the source of the escaping gas. The beat soon destroyed the governor and the lead connections holding it to the meter and outlet pipe, which, it will be remembered, was attached to the connecting main. But a brief time elapsed when this outlet pipe, a 4-inch one, poured out great volumes of gas under considerable pressure, and the gas, burning as fast as it was ejected, must have possessed tremendous heat energy and formed a flame many feet in length. The surroundings were such that the fire must have spread with great rapidity, for the adjacent space was closely packed with innumerable papers, documents, and wooden cases, and these continued throughout the various rooms and passages connected with the meter room. Before the explosion many of these places were closed off by wooden doors, but the explosive force had destroyed these, affording easy progress to the flames.

In one direction the fire burned its way quickly to the foot of the elevator shaft running to the Supreme Court floor. Passing upward, it entered the offices of the marsbal of the court, completely destroyed the contents of that office and anteroom, passed then into the passage adjoining the court room at the south, entered the private rooms set apart for the Attorney-General, and finally reached the arched ceiling of the court room. It is fortunate that the progress of the fire was stopped at that point, for had the flames reached the roof of that por. tion of the building, which, as is well known, is not fireproof, complete destruction of the roof would have been certain.

Westward from the center of explosion the fire found ample oppor. tunities in the great mass of papers stored there to eat its way into the rooms beneath the file room of the clerk's office of the Supreme Court, and finding an outlet through an aperture in the destroyed floor of this file room it attacked the cases containing the most valuable of the documents and records belonging to the court. The containing cases were constructed of wood. At this moment, fortunately, the flames bursting through the western window disclosed the location of a center of fire hitherto unknown to the firemen. Up to this time they had been devoting their attention to the eastern section of the building. Well. directed efforts of the firemen, aided by those of the engineer force of the building then on duty and arriving at the scene, subdued this fire in time to save these most valuable records. As was afterwards shown, the cases were burned nearly through to the records, but had preserved them to some extent; and when, in the course of repairs, these docu. ments were extracted scorched, smoked, and in some cases partly water. soaked, they were found, to the great gratification of the officials, preserved sufficiently to still remain records of the court. Of the doc uments of the court stowed below about all were destroyed. Tons of destroyed records were afterwards removed from the subbasement. These last-named records were principally duplicates and were not of inestimable value.

The law library suffered in this fire but to a comparatively small extent. The force of the explosion had blown upward several of the floors, and the flames followed, scorching some of the books contained

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