Thomas Alva Edison’s West Orange, New Jersey research laboratory and Glenmont, the Victorian mansion where he lived, are preserved today as part of Thomas Edison National Historical Park, a unit of the National Park Service.
In 1886 Edison purchased Glenmont and the next year began construction of his West Orange research and development complex. For the next forty-four years Edison used his laboratory for research in electricity, chemistry, and metallurgy. Here inventions were developed and, once perfected, placed into mass production at the factory buildings that surrounded the research laboratories.
Among the products developed at West Orange were: the Edison disc phonograph; improved cylinder phonographs; the Ediphone (a dictating machine); the nickel¬iron-alkaline storage battery; the motion picture system, the kinetophone; improved electrical generators and meters; and the Edicraft line of household appliances. The world’s first building constructed as a motion picture studio, the Black Maria, was part of the laboratory complex from 1893 until 1903.
Laboratory employment reached its high point about 1912 when staff of more than two hundred worked with Edison in the laboratory buildings. The extensive factory complex surrounding the laboratories employed many more, reaching a peak of about ten thousand in 1919-1920. Thomas A. Edison, Inc., and later McGraw-Edison, manufactured Edison products for almost forty years after the inventor’s death in 1931.
Today the National Park Service preserves the Edison laboratory including the chemistry lab, machine shop, and library where Edison conducted his research. There is also a replica of the Black Maria, where motion pictures were born. The Edison home, Glenmont, is located on a fifteen-acre estate in Llewellyn Park, the country’s first private residential community. Built in 1880, the twenty-nine room mansion contains the original furnishings and family items used by Thomas and Mina Edison. The estate grounds include gardens, greenhouse, barn, and the poured concrete garage containing the family’s automobiles. Thomas and Mina Edison are buried on the grounds of the estate.
For visiting hours and information visit our website or call 973-736-0550 ext. 11.