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The report of John S. Damrell, Boston's inspector of buildings, upon the causes of the accident at the Harvard boat-house, is as follows : L. E. Sexton, President of the Harvard University Boat Club-Dear Sir : In response to your letter under date of Nov. 12,1883, I visited the site of the Harvard University Boat Club house in Cambridge, Mass., and examined building and platforms on the west or water side of same, with a view of ascertaining the cause of accident Oct. 20, 1883. The platform I found in a wrecked condition-that is, a certain or central section of same-and at once concluded that the direct causes of accident were from the giving way, or pressure outward, of pile support and improper construction, allowing the second or upper platform to fall, with its human weight combined with the weight of material of construction, which would require more than ordinary construction of lower platform to resist. This style of platform should be built as a wharf, the stringers, somers and piles mortised, tenoned, and bolted together, and not simply resting on piles, as was the case here. The piles for such a structure should be driven into and down to hard pan, and, where exposed to the tide wash, should be braced and bolted together.
Independent of pile support, the somers supporting each platform, if properly braced to posts of building, and carried into and bolted to girder inside of same-said girder being properly kneed and bolted to posts-accident could not have happened. From further examination it appears, from drawing submitted, that the 3x10 plank that was shouldered into pile and bolted to same, and carried up under 8x10 somer and toe nailed to same, assisted the downfall as soon as any settlement took place, or the washing away of the mud of embankment around and about piles under same. The manner in which the girders, or somers, supporting second platform are connected with main building, is imperfect and insecure-the whole structure is of a light nature, and would suggest that the roof rafters have more suitable ties in lieu of collar beams now in use-these ties or collars should be placed as low as the top of purlines supporting rafters. Respectfully yours,
JOHN S. DAMRELL,Inspector of Buildings, City of Boston. M. W. FITZSIMMONS. Deputy Inspector, Old State House, Boston, Nov. 23, 1883.
An examination of the boat-house rums has also been made by Mr. F. B. Knapp, superintendent of the college buildings. The examination made by Capt. Damrell, was at the instance of Mr. Sexton, who has taken great pains to have the affair thoroughly investigated.
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