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in cases near by, but it was found that the books injured could be readily replaced.
After the fire the Architect, as an emergency measure, opened the old Congressional Library for the use of the court and law library, and the documents rescued have been placed there subject to an order from this office directing their removal.
The fire in the Supreme Court room completely ruined the decoration of the interior, which had just been renewed. The marble busts of late chief justices, however, escaped severe damage. The skylight glass in the first ceiling was cracked by the intense heat, and the interior furnishings were completely water-soaked. A fortunate circumstance saved this room from complete destruction. It appears that the doors, both in the gallery and leading from the court room to the AttorneyGeneral's private room and marshal's offices, were closed at the time of the fire. These doors lead into a passage where the fire burned with its greatest intensity. Although of wood they withstood for some little time the attack of the flames, and consequently the fire had gained but little hold on the interior of the court room when this point was reached by the firemen.
WORK OF RESTORATION.
The explosion occurred on Sunday afternoon, November 6, 1898. Congress was to meet the first Monday of December following. Energetic measures were therefore necessary to completely restore the damage done. A contract was at once entered into with a local company to furnish such labor and material and perform such services as might be directed, and on the morning following the event a large force of men started the clearing away of the débris. As it was deemed very important that a thorough investigation be made into the probable cause and resulting effects of the fire and explosion, letters were addressed by this office to Glenn Brown, architect, and Prof. Charles E. Munroe, an expert on explosives, inviting them to render such services as might fall within the limits of their professional spheres. Mr. Brown was requested to assist this office in a complete examination of the condition of the principal walls to test their condition, and to make other observations on the structural effects of the explosion.
Pro ssor Munroe was asked to make a thorough investigation of the explosion, to ascertain its cause, if possible, and to present such other facts in connection with the subject as he deemed proper.
Both gentlemen promptly, and without definite information as to compensation, placed themselves at the disposal of this office and commenced their independent observations within a few hours after the commencement of clearing away the débris. It was important that their investigations should follow step by step the removal of all wreckage, and these gentlemen adopted the plan as far as was practical.
The office conducted a third investigation, and it was found that on all principal points the reports practically agree.
As fast as the debris was cleared away new arches were constructed to take the place of those destroyed. New floors were placed where floors were injured. Supporting arches were constructed under the floor of the file room destroyed, and many of the arches and piers in the subbasement were faced with supporting walls and arches to insure against disintegration. This last work covered a large portion of the subbasement, for the original walls and piers had been so attacked by the heat as to render them liable to influences of moisture and changes of temperature. The large piers supporting the columns of the small rotunda or air shaft were treated in the same manner. Two of them were more seriously affected, and in order to impart to them additional strength a box was constructed around each, 12 inches from the face of the pier, the interior being filled with concrete. In this concrete was embedded a series of iron tie rods 8 inches apart. These piers are now stronger than ever before.
The steam heating plant and water supply to the Supreme Court was entirely rearranged. In the old system, which was completely wrecked in the explosion, many of the pipes were hidden under the earth flooring of this portion of the Capitol. This method has given way during the restoration to a complete system with steam supply from the Senate boilers, with steam mains in plain view and with return pipes in suitable trenches. During the progress of this branch of the work every unused pipe, including old gas, water, and steam pipes, were removed from beneath the earth floor, with the result that no pipe exists in this portion of the building that is not definitely known and its use and size shown on a plan. As pipes have been continuously placed in this part of the building since its construction, and since only those placed there during the past thirty years have been known, it is not surprising that the amount of old pipe removed approximates 5,000 feet in length. It is perhaps unnecessary to state that the connecting gas main, previously referred to, bas been removed and has not been replaced. Yet it is of extreme interest to note that the removal of this main, together with other old pipe, all buried below the surface, gave the last link required to complete the chain of facts giving the cause of the explosion.
One item of the work of restoration was the cabinetwork. It became necessary to replace a large number of doors, window frames, and sash burned and destroyed by the force of the explosion. This work, besides extending to rooms remote from the center of explosion, comprised the entire refitting of the file room of the court, marshal's office, rooms connected with the court proper, and the ceiling-light sash' in the court room.
In the same manner the entire electric-lighting system in the rooms affected had to be overhauled and renewed. The court room, which had been decorated just prior to the explosion, required repainting entire. The court file room, marshal's offices, and adjacent rooms, rooms in law library, together with the vestibule in front of the law library and the lower ceiling of the small rotunda, were plastered and painted.
The destruction of the Supreme Court elevator by fire necessitated the installation of a new one. Accordingly a contract was entered into with the Sprague Electric Company for the erection of an electric elevator, including operating machinery, car platform, and control. Inclosures were obtained from the Tyler Construction Company and the entire outfit was successfully installed. This elevator is in all respects a fireproof affair, and has given the court full satisfaction.
The area occupied by the subbasement of the Supreme Court and that under the crypt was originally paved with bricks laid on sand. As this pavement was disturbed by tire and water and the removal of the old pipiny previously referred to, it was deemed advisable to better the tloor conditions by restoring the pavement in concrete. Therefore the subbasement floors, from the north building wall of the old building and extending southward to the south wall of the vaults beneath the crypt, were graded, a 4-inch concrete base laid and topped with a pavement of Portland cement laid to represent stone flagging. This work has greatly improved the conditions existing in this part of the Capitol both on the score of cleanliness and atmospheric conditions. To further aid the latter, entrances have been formed in some of the partition walls, which guarantee a good circulation of air. The present good condition can only be preserved, however, by such regulations on the part of the court as will prevent the subbasement from being used for storage of useless material. If the space is again filled with documents and material of questionable value, the ventilation of this part of the Capitol can not be long guaranteed.
In order to afford an easy inspection of the subbasement and at the same time prevent unauthorized entrance of persons, suitable ironscreen doors have been provided and keys supplied to the Capitol police, who will in future make regular inspections. This was not possible hitherto, in the fullest sense, because of the crowded condition of the spaces now cleared. As now arranged every portion can be visited with safety and with convenience, electric lights baving been arranged for in every direction. Heretofore these inspections were limited to the visits of employees of the court and Architect's office. The latter had access to the passage leading through to the heating department of the court, and the superintendent of gas meters visited the Supreme Court meter weekly. These inspections were made on week days only. It is believed, however, that a Sunday inspection would not have prevented the disaster of Sunday, November 6, because the gas leakage was sudden and unexpected, and there is no doubt that any attempt to enter this locality within a few seconds after the accident to the gas governor would have been fatal to life. Occurring on Sunday, and at the hour it did, the disaster cost no life. This fact overbalances the regrets caused by the occurrence.
In concluding this subject I can not refrain from expressing the highest admiration for the heroic work of the fire department, carried forward under the great difficulties, the greatest of which was their unfamiliarity with the passageways and rooms in this portion of the building. Even those familiar with the subbasement would have been at loss in the midst of wreckage and dislodged masonry, which in many cases obliterated landmarks. Acts of real heroism were performed both by firemen and employees of the electric-lighting force. Noticeable among these acts was that of the superintendent of lighting, Mr. Gleim, who secured the services of some of the firemen, and during the fire entered into the space occupied by the destroyed gas meter. Its outlet pipe was discharging a fierce fame of burning gas against the opposite wall. A stream of water was directed into the open pipe and the flow of gas checked. At this moment Mr. Gleim crawled forward and closed the outlet valve, shutting off the gas supply.
GENERAL REPAIRS TO CAPITOL.
The return walls of the terrace next to the building have been partially reconstructed and the balustrades resting thereon taken down and reset. This work was necessary owing to the expansion and contraction of the terrace, due to its exposed position and subjection to extreme changes of temperature during the season.
In the act approved July 1, 1898, Congress provided for the reroofing of the terrace over that portion coutaining the committee rooms. At the same time the plant cases were repaired and lined with sheet Neuchatel aspbalt. The roofing material is of the same material, and every effort was made to make a water-tight roof. The severe storms of the past winter, however, injured the newlaid work. It had been done in the most satisfactory manner by the Cranford Paving Company under a contract. There was a clause in this contract which was bonded, guaranteeing the work for a period of tive years. Without attempting to question the character of the injuries sustained by the roof in au unusual period of weather, the Cranford Company notified the Architect that they would take up the roof and lay a new one. This was done during the last spring, with additional features sanctioned by this office to insure against possible injuries due to expansion and contraction of the mass of masonry beneath. During the progress of this
. work a new skylight was placed on the roof of the House dynamo room, and all skylights over the section of terrace repaved were provided with new and improved settings.
During the past year the painting of the exterior of the old building, porticoes, and dome has been completed, but the good results obtained do not long remain as such, owing to the nature of the material of which the old building is constructed. Frequent painting of this part of the Capitol is necessary to prevent deterioration and sustain an exterior suitable to the wings, which are of marble.
A scaffolding was erected in the Senate Chamber, and the entire ceiling and side walls repainted and decorated. A complete change in tint has been given, to the betterment of the lighting of the Chamber. The principal corridor at the south of the Chamber, gallery floor; the stairways in the House and Senate wings; the corridors at the east and west of the Hall of Representatives, in the principal and attic stories, have all been painted and decorated. Several of the committee and other rooms have been painted and decorated. These are set forth in the appendix.
Under orders of the Speaker of the House, the House press gallery rooms have been rearranged. The outer room, which was formerly used partly as an entrance to one of the galleries in the House, has been occupied by all telegraph tables taken from the central room. This room was given over entirely to the use of the members of the press. All the rooms comprised in this order have been painted, and the plumbing and lighting overhauled. There is great need for better ventilation for these rooms, and it is my purpose to provide a special ventilating fan, to be placed in position during the coming season.
Some slight changes have been made in the arrangement of the executive and diplomatic galleries of the House,
As mentioned in the earlier portion of this report, the Supreme Court room had been entirely renovated and painted and was completed at the date of the fire and explosion. Included in this work were the room of the clerk of the court and the clerks' rooms attached to his office. These rooms have been provided with new steam-heating apparatus and necessary piping to same.
The conditions exisiting in the kitchen of the House restaurant have been much improved by taking up the old stone flagging forming the flooring and substituting therefor artificial stone pavement of the best quality, and by overhauling the drainage and plumbing therein. It is now possible to keep this kitchen in good, cleanly condition. A new sewerage system was installed in connection with the new paving.
I have been directed by an order from the Clerk of the House, acting in the absence of the Speaker, to incorporate as a part of the House restaurant the present room of the House Committee on Printing. Further, to allot to the disbursing office of the House the room now
occupied by the House Committee on Alcoholic Liquor Traffic. This order will be carried out during the summer.
During the past season a number of bulkheads, placed at the intersection of corridors in the old building, have been removed, to the betterment of the ventilation.
The exceptionally hard winter just passed caused great damage to the roof of the Capitol building. The junction of the roof with the gutters was in many places broken, and melting snow was driven in, destroying the decorations of many of the committee-room ceilings in the attic stories, necessitating their complete renovation. The skylight glass in the skylights of each wing gave way in many instances from the great weight of snow which fell upon them. On the southside roof of each wing the snow during one storm reached a depth of 8 feet. The skylight glass were repaired and put in at the earliest possible moment, and every effort was made to avoid the discomforts of the unforeseen situation.
A large number of chimney caps were destroyed during the storms and have been replaced.
Such conditions of weather are seldom met with, and the roof and interior of the building suffered in consequence. During the season inuch of the damage has been repaired, but the work has compelled an expenditure not estimated for, and necessarily taken from those funds allotted to other branches of repair.
The heating and ventilating departments of both wings and center building have been overhauled, and considerable repairs have been made.
In the House wing general repairs were made to all boilers, pumps, engines, and additional water supply to pumps arranged.
All ventilating flues were scraped, including the main air ducts, and again whitewashed.
The floors and air chamber beneath the House and Senate floors have been thoroughly cleaned out, and the floor air gratings removed and cleaned by steam.
The elevator service received special attention and repairs.
The legislative bell service has been kept in use during the sessions with but few complaints, and since adjournment has been remodeled.
The complete system of fireplaces, plumbing, and toilet rooms bas been operated as desired, and many minor repairs to this, as well as to doors and windows.
The difficulties experienced with the flues of fireplaces have been found to be largely due to the action of the ventilating apparatus, and it is thought that special means will be necessary to overcome the influence of the apparatus, which has a tendency to reverse action in the flues.
VENTILATION IN THE CAPITOL.
The ventilation of the Senate wing of the Capitol has continued as during the past year in a satisfactory manner. The ventilation of the Senate Chamber has been superior to that of the committee rooms owing to the fact that the air supply to the latter can never be made to approach perfection as long as the present supply tlues are used. It must be remembered, however, that these flues are a part of the origi. nal construction of the building and are not suited in many instances to the demands of present-day methods. Ventilation in the committee and other rooms can never be made successful in the fullest sense until some radical method is adopted which will insure individual dis.