June 19, 1968
The enclosed reference to correspondence between
Robert Mills and Elias Wallen or someone else in St.
Augustine was evidently in existence somewhere in the'
National Archives in 1935 when the book was written, and
should still be there.
I have always thought it would be enlightening
and might solve some questions as to just what was done
in 1833-4 in addition to Waller's claim for compensation.
While the author gives a long bibliography. I can
find no reference to any manuscript material such as these
letters. I note that whoever did the report for GSA
supplied a drawing that is attributed to Mills, the quote
Sin the biography suggests that there were "designs, drawings
plans and estimates" in addition to the correspondence.
I would have attempted to secure copies of this
material long ago, but I know from experience that if you
can't tell the staff there .ust where to look, you don't get
much attention It occurred to me however, that your office
may have the name of the person in GSA who made the .report,
and he or she might be able to find this material.
The author of the biography must have seen the correspondence
otherwise he could not have quoted from it,
Have you any ideas as to how we might get copies?
From: Gallagher, H. M. Pierce; RWBERT MILLS, Architect of the
Washington Monument, 1781-1855; Columbia University Press, 1935.
Among the public buildings created by Mills we may list the
.(14) Also various remodeling commissions, such as the
Old Spanish Court House, St. Augustine, Florida.
A most interesting piece of restoration was that of the old
courthouse at Saint Augustine, Florida, which was built by
the Spanish for a governor's palace, and was altogether neglected
by the United States after its acquisition in 1821. We find
ample proof in it of the painstaking work of Robert Mills.
This work, begun in 1833, proceeded with difficulty, owing to
the distance between that point and Washington, and consequently
to his inability to be personally in charge, and also to the
fact that the structure was made of "nigger head stone of
unparalleled hardness and thickness. An almost continuous
correspondence was necessary for a time to guarantee unspoiled
the harmonies achieved by its original builders.
Mills was especially meticulous in the matter of tiles for
this old Spanish building, particularly on the floors of the
galleries, in order to preserve exact agreement in color and
to reveal no new work. We find the government ( in 1833)
debtor to him for 'designs, drawings, plans and estimates of
alterations and improvements to the Court House at Saint Augustine
-agreeably to the requisition of the Treasury Department in the
-sum of one hundred dollars. A note was appended to the effect
that he "hesitated the advancement of the claim because it was
not until Allen, receiver of monies at St Augustine ( now in
Washington) reported that the work was done, and with little
alteration from the plans submitted.' This note was sent to Hon.
Levi Woodbury, Secretary of the Treasury but was not honored until
Mills assumed official work for the government in 1836.