Shedding Light on Thomas Edison

Dear readers, this particular blog entry is the most precious  for me.  It is  cowritten by my 13 year old.  I am signing off now and handing it over to my son…Lakshay…


After 13 years of living only an hour away from a laboratory of inventions, a library of new ideas, and the home of the most influential family in the 20th century, my parents decided to take me to the Thomas Edison National Park.

The grand entrance to the laboratory complex

As you can see, the gateway to the workplace of Thomas Edison is not exactly the most architectually stunning entrance. Although if you were living in 2000 B.C, the arch would definitely be something out of this world.  This building won’t catch the eye of every pedestrian walking by in West Orange, but if one looks closely enough, they can see the sign labeled “Thomas Edison National Historical Park.”

The first thing we visited was the chemistry lab. We stood squished In the corner of the lab, listening as the guide told us about Edison’s plan of extracting rubber from what most would consider a useless weed.

Edison’s favorite workplace, the chemistry lab


Dangerous machinery

Throughout the heavy machine shop, these big metal stations were placed without any safety contraptions at all. 100 years back, this placed would have smelled like a sea of oil, and would have sounded like a thousand people stamping on the ground with metallic shoes.

You can see the measures of safety in this next picture.


Just  like the multiplication tables and perfect square charts kids use in school, Edison has his own “cheat sheet”


Music Room

The first thing I asked myself when I walked into this room was “why did Edison have such a big portion of his laboratory building as a music room?” One of Edison’s many inventions was the sound recorder. I would imagine that the instruments were used to experiment with the sound recordings and their quality. In fact, the  phonograph room was right next to this music room.

The phonograph horns.
The phonograph horns.


Spiral Staircase
Spiral Staircase

Even the staircase demanded the same level of attention and complexity as Edison’s inventions.


After exploring the laboratory complex, I realized that without Edison, our lives today would be very different. He made all things from sound recordings to toasters possible. He made one of the first black and white film studios (light bulbs, camera, action). The most important thing I learned was to appreciate the thinkers and inventors that lived before the 21st century.

Now the mom is taking over…..

I hope you enjoyed musings of our guest writer.  The laboratory was absolutely fabulous and  I highly encourage those who have an extra 45 minutes to spare to visit Glenmont house.  There are no walk ins allowed so you must sign up for a preassigned tour time at the visitor center in the laboratory.  The stunning victorian mansion bought by Thomas Alva Edison for his young bride to be: his companion, his muse, his PR person, the mother of his children from his first wife, the influencer of times; Mina Millette.  The house designed by Holly (who also was commissioned by Edison to design the library at the laboratory) was built for $300000 for Henry Pedder, an invoice clerk for Arnold Constable Company.  I needn’t say anymore except when Uncle Sam caught up with Pedder, Edison found a great deal for $125000.  The victorian was modernized by the Edisons and stands as it was from day one.  Photos are not allowed inside but here are the images of the outside.   The vast space  surrounding the house is an open lawn with some wrought iron furnishings that almost blend into the garden.  It is the most beautiful blood red building, impeccably maintained on the outside.  Although, there are many ceiling cracks on the inside, as with any other national park, the federal funding will affect the longevity of this one too.

There is a graveyard, a green house (that is still active and open for visitors) and the garage with a Model T.

The house sits on the first gated community of America and the surrounding homes in the community still speak of opulence, then and now.

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I am now signing off with a color image (it was my guest writers wish to have all the rest in B&W) of Glenmont with the two authors in the foreground….See you soon…hopefully in technicolor next time!

If you want to see more of the laboratory, click here!


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