BLTC Press Titles

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The Art of Worldly Wisdom

Baltasar Gracian

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

A. Conan Doyle

Shakti and Shakta

John Woodroffe

My Man Jeeves

P. G. Wodehouse

An essay on the heating and ventilation of public buildings

by John L. Smithmeyer




That pure air and an abundance of light are essential to the health and comfort of the human race is universally conceded. Each generation, as it records its testimony and statistics on hygiene, enables its successor to profit by its experience and knowledge, while the discoverers of improved methods of promoting the welfare of their fellowbeings are entitled to high rank in the list of the world's benefactors. Diligent research and reformation in matters pertaining to the proper ventilation and sanitary condition of public schools,, theatres, churches, court-rooms, offices, etc., are the order of the day. One of the most important themes of discussion among scientific men in this part of the world is the necessity of improving the ventilation and heating of the halls of Congress and Department buildings.

The defective system of ventilation and the peculiar structural arrangement of the halls of Congress, wedged, as they are, within the surrounding corridors and committee-rooms, are a serious embarrassment to a satisfactory introduction of the essential elements of light and air.

From the Report (No. 1970, June 24th, 1884,) of a Committee of the House of Representatives of the 48th Congress, on "Ventilation and Acoustics of the Hall of Representatives," and from a later report (No. 2026, July 2d, 1884,) by the same committee, it is evident that the defects of the present system of ventilation in this hall are fully recognized. These defects were also well known to the "Board of United States Officers" appointed several years ago for the purpose of investigating the ventilation and heating of the Halls of Congress. This Board was also empowered to execute such recommendations as it made on these subjects, for which purpose an appropriation of $30,000 was recently made by Congress; other appropriations had been previously made from time to time. This Board was again requested by the. committee of the last (48th) Congress to suggest other changes in the existing mode of ventilation which would improve its condition, and reported itself "opposed to any material change in the system of ventilation now in use in the Capitol of the United States."

Constant and vigorous complaints of the serious consequences resulting from the impure air and strong drafts of the hall have been renewed by its occupants and will not be silenced by the decision of the Board, which would close the door to health and comfort and rust the hinges of progress.

The report embraces the recommendations of the Architect of the Capitol (page 7, line 40), who is also a member of the " Board of United States Officers," but received the signatures of only two of the seven members of the committee; thus making it a minority report. The regular committee report reads as follows:

"The Committee on Ventilation and Acoustics have had under consideration the subject of improving the ventilation of the Hall of the House of Representatives, and beg leave to submit the following report:

Your committee have given the subject of remedying the defects in the present system of ventilating the House 6f Representatives their careful attention and investigations, and more particularly for the reason that to the errors in the principle of the present system of ventilation much of the suffering from ill health of the members and occupants of the House may be attributable.

The present system of ventilating the House was adopted over thirty years ago, at the time of the completion of the present Hall of the House of Representatives, and has been continuously in use from that time to the present, and without change in principle, and without the adoption of the later and more advanced knowledge which the science of ventilation has acquired.

At former sessions of Congress since that time many improvements have been suggested and experimental trials had, and many of the best experts and authorities consulted, at great and continuous expense and cost to the Government, with a view of improving the bad condition of the air in the House, but without a change in the principle of the system, all of the past efforts having failed, as the present condition testifies"

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