Thomas Edison House Glenmont: A New Jersey Family Day Trip!
Thomas Edison's Home in New Jersey is a Glimpse Into the Great Inventor's Life!
Thomas Edison, one of America's greatest inventors, lived for more than four decades in a 29-room mansion called Glenmont in the exclusive Llewellyn Park neighborhood of West Orange, New Jersey, a short distance from the laboratory complex where he did most of his inventing.The house is open to guided tours, and it's a great chance to see what home life must have been like for the world-famous Edison and his family. Here are some highlights from a recent visit to Glenmont by our family.
UPDATE: On a return visit I was finally able to see the inside of Thomas Edison's garage, so please scroll down for new details and photos on his cars!
Thomas Edison Buys an Embezzler's Home!
Chosen By His Second Wife
The tour of the house begins at the front door (naturally!) and the park ranger who is our guide tells us that the red brick and wood mansion was built in 1880 by a clerk who had embezzled the money to pay for it! designed by architect Henry Hudson Holly, the house is in the American Queen Anne style that was popular at that time.
Edison bought the house in 1886 for $125,000, less than half what it cost to build, after the clerk was forced to give up the house when he was caught. It was a wedding gift to his second wife. Edison's first wife had died and when he remarried he gave his wife the choice of a home in the country or an apartment in New York City. The ranger says the young bride Mina, knowing that Edison was a workaholic, chose a house in the country because she knew that otherwise she'd never see her husband!
Thomas Edison Biographies - An Inventor's Life
Thomas Edison led a fascinating life as an inventor (he held 1,093 patents when he died). The phonograph and the incandescent light bulb are only two of the everyday things he developed, and he spent the vast majority of his life looking into new ways and things that could benefit mankind. I have always found him very inspiring, and I'm sure you would too. Here are some biographies of the inventor if you want to know more about him.
Animal Rugs and Stained Glass Windows
The Upper Class Life of Edison
Inside the home the first thing you notice is a large stained glass window on the balcony straight ahead depicting Penelope awaiting Ulysses' return from the Greek mythology. The ranger explains that the stuffed animal heads and rugs came with the house and that Edison himself wasn't a hunter.
Off to one side is the library filled with rows and rows of books, many of them fiction that had been popular during Edison's time. Edison never read them, our guide tells us, because he considered fiction a waste of time! As you tour the ground floor you get the sense that the Edisons lived what would be a classic upper-class lifestyle, with Mina entertaining ladies for tea. There's a large semi-circular drawing room with windows that could be taken out during the summer, but that was heated to care for the houseplants during the winter.
The photo here is from a collection taken for the Historic American Buildings Survey of the National Park Service. Taken in 1963, the photo is in the public domain according to my reading of the HABS website.
Edison's 'Think Desk' and Bedroom
Playing Parcheesi with the Children
Upstairs, it is interesting to note that Edison's bedroom wasn't the largest in the house. (The biggest was reserved for the many house guests that came to visit). Instead, the Edisons preferred a smaller one that had larger windows because Mina loved bird watching and that room had the best views of the grounds. Edison died in this bed in 1931 at age 84.
According to the national park some of the overnight guests included Orville Wright, Helen Keller and Henry Ford. Our guide tells us that the King of Siam visited the Edisons but didn't stay in the mansion because there wasn't enough space for his large entourage!
Edison had six children, three with each wife. The children's bedrooms that we saw were nice and probably very appropriate for the age, but not very memorable. More interesting is the upstairs family room, where Edison had his ''think desk.'' As a notorious workaholic, he would often excuse himself from parties and guests by saying he wasn't feeling well then retire to this upstairs room to work on his latest creation.
Our guide points out a Parcheesi game all set up to play. Edison liked to play with his children, but wasn't above bending the rules on occasion to make sure he won!
The photo is from a collection taken for the Historic American Buildings Survey of the National Park Service. Taken in 1963, the photo is in the public domain according to my reading of the HABS website.
The Grand Servants' Area
An Area Where Edison Probably Never Ventured
The tour goes down the back stairs to the servants' work area, consisting of the kitchen, laundry room and servants dining room. It's neat to look at all the old-fashioned laundry and kitchen gadgets and equipment, knowing that they were probably the latest technology available in those days.
But the real surprise is the room where the servants ate and could relax while waiting for the bell that called them to service. It's a very nicely appointed room, with its own phonograph and piano, and looks more like the main room of a middle-class apartment than a servants' area. The guide tells us that Edison believed servants should be well treated and well paid, and I believe it. I do find it hard to accept the guide's assurance that neither Thomas or Mina probably ever ventured into these quarters. It seems like such an odd way of life.
The dining room could seat 30 people, and judging from the silverware that is shown they were certainly treated grandly as well.The pan and brush used to clear crumbs off the table alone probably cost more than the servants' made in a year! The Edisons lived under Victorian rules, which meant that the children had their own table to one side to eat at. Also, be sure to check out the wonderful Tiffany lamp!
The inside tour ends in a den that Mina turned into a mini-showcase for some of her husband's inventions after his death. It's neat to see some of the equipment sitting among the plush chairs and curtains of the day. Make sure the tour guide tells you the surprising story of the room's ceiling!
This photo of the dining room looking toward the den is from a collection taken for the Historic American Buildings Survey of the National Park Service. Taken in 1963, the photo is in the public domain according to my reading of the HABS website.
Buy Some of Edison's Plants!
After the tour of the house you can wander some of the estate's 13.5 acres, including the family greenhouses and potting shed (built in 1909).
The greenhouse area apparently was much larger when the Edisons were alive, with roses, orchids, snapdragons and many other plants and flowers being grown. What is left didn't strike me as anything special, butt one nice thing is that there are plants for sale. Something Edison's greenhouse would be a great souvenir or gift for someone!
Thomas Edison's Words to Live By
Thomas Edison believed very strongly in the power of perseverance, as evident in his famous response when someone suggested he failed after numerous attempts to develop the light bulb: ''I have not failed. I just found ten thousand ways that won't work.''
I have also heard the quote with the simple ''one thousand,'' but that doesn't matter. It's still a great philosophy about never giving up.
Thomas Edison's Garage
The Yankee Stadium Connection!
The garage was closed during our third visit to Glenmont, as it had been the other two times we were there. At the end of the house tour I mentioned that to the park ranger at the home's front door, and he was kind enough to say he'd walk our group down for a very fast visit!
Inside the garage were several cars that belonged to Edison, including early electric versions that he was trying hard to commercialize (mainly because they would be powered by his Edison batteries. The guy was a businessman after all.)
The electric cars never caught on, in part because they needed charging too often and because gasoline at the time was much cheaper. The ranger also said the price tag of a 1914 electric car was $2,500, compared to $500 for a Model T. That alone would make the electric versions a tough sell.
The floor of the garage had a turntable that would help park the cars, but it had been damaged during a prank by one of Edison's sons and so doesn't work anymore.
One thing that is interesting to note is that both the garage and the potting shed were built with the Portland cement that Edison was developing to showcase his belief that concrete houses were the future. Unfortunately, the molds he used were too complex so the housebuilding was never a viable business (there are some sample concrete homes in Union, New Jersey, built using Edison's methods.)
By the way, the cement business was never one of Edison's most profitable ones, and is mainly remembered for having provided the material for the original Yankee Stadium in the 1920s.
The Cars in Thomas Edison's Garage! - 100-Year-Old Electric Cars!Click thumbnail to view full-size
Edison's Final Resting Place
A Simple Grave for a Great Man!
A short distance from the year of the house are the final resting places of Thomas and Mina Edison.
Edison was first buried in a nearby cemetery after his 1931 death, with Mina continuing to live in the house until she died in 1947 and was laid to rest beside him. The two were moved to their current graves in 1963.
The gravestones are quite plain and simple, and if you are running short of time they can be skipped.
Thomas Edison's Laboratory
The Famous Research and Development Complex
Glenmont is one half of the national park in West Orange, with Edison's laboratory complex being the other half. It is easy to see everything in one day, and one admission price covers both. I wrote about our laboratory visit in a separate lens, and I hope you check it out!
Thomas Edison's Laboratory: A New Jersey Family Day Trip!
The Thomas Edison laboratory in New Jersey is a great family day trip. Edison was the inventor of the first practical electric bulb, the motion picture camer...
Have You Toured Thomas Edison's Home?
Have You Ever Been to Glenmont?
My family and I really enjoyed our tour of Edison's home. Have you ever visited Glenmont, or do you plan to? If yes, what did you think? If no, why not?
More Information On Thomas Edison and Glenmont - To Help Plan Your Visit!
Here are some websites that have more information about Thomas Edison, the park and Glenmont to help you plan your visit.
More Travel Reviews
Gettysburg, George Washington's Headquarters and the Frick Collection
Tourist Places In and Near New Jersey
We hope this lens has increased your interest in visiting Thomas Edison's house in the Thomas Edison National Historical Park in New Jersey. Here are some other great places in and near New Jersey to visit!
George Washington's Headquarters in Morristown: A New Jersey Family Day Trip
The Ford Mansion in Morristown, New Jersey, served as George Washington's Revolutionary War headquarters during the winter of 1779-1780, close enough to New ...
Gettysburg Battlefield Museum: A Pennsylvania Family Day Trip
The Gettysburg Visitor Center and Museum, located in the Gettysburg National Military Park, is the best place to start any visit to the Civil War battlefield...
Highlights of the Frick Collection
The Frick Collection is an art museum in Manhattan's Upper East Side, and is world-famous for its collection of Old Master paintings. Included in the collect...
Starting Your Own Internet Business: A Step-by-Step Guide
Start Your Own e-Business, from Entrepreneur Magazine's Startup Series, is a comprehensive guide for anyone who is considering trying to make money on the In...
Start Your Own Blogging Business: a How to Build a Blog Guide
Start Your Own Blogging Business, from Entrepreneur Magazine's Startup Series, is a comprehensive guide for anyone who wants to make money on the Internet th...
Midas Touch: Trump and 'Rich Dad's Kiyosaki on Being Your Own Boss
Donald Trump, the famous real estate developer and TV star, and Robert Kiyosaki, best-selling author of the ''Rich Dad, Poor Dad'' series of motivational boo...
Things to Do in Nova Scotia: Highlights of Our Family Vacation
Nova Scotia offered our family a good mix of what we look for on when we go away on vacation. There's beautiful scenery to hike through, historical and cultu...
Top Five Travel Tips For Tourists Going to Nova Scotia
Our family recently visited Nova Scotia, which a wonderful place that has a wide variety of things to do for everyone. We wrote an online diary of the trip, ...
Ford's Theatre, Where Lincoln Was Assassinated: A Washington D.C. Family Day Trip
Ford's Theatre in Washington D.C. was the scene of America's greatest tragedy. On April 14, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln, having successfully guided the c...
National Museum of American History: A Washington D.C. Family Day Trip
The National Museum of American History in the heart of Washington D.C. is one of those places that can really capture the attention of every member of the f...
The National Zoo: A Washington D.C. Family Day Trip
The Smithsonian National Zoological Park, commonly known as the National Zoo, is a great place to take the kids when they need a break from all the monuments...
Renoir and Highlights of the Phillips Collection: A Washington D.C. Family Day Trip
The Phillips Collection opened in 1921 as America's first museum of modern art, and it is still considered one of the premiere places to see such masterpiece...
Highlights of the National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum
The Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery are located in the same building, and are officially called the Donald W. Reynolds Cent...
Highlights of the Library of Congress: Thomas Jefferson, Bob Hope and the Gutenberg Bible!
The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, with millions of books, photographs, maps and other items in its collection. The Thomas Jefferso...
Highlights of the National Gallery of Art: A Washington Family Day Trip
The National Gallery of Art is located on the National Mall in Washington D.C., and is a great change of pace from the many museums that are nearby. The pain...
Highlights of Fort McHenry, Birthplace of the Star-Spangled Banner
Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine is a great place to visit, full of inspiring history, lovely grounds and cool views. It's also a place to ...
Geppi's Entertainment Museum in Baltimore: A Tourist's Guide to Comic Book Heaven!
Geppi's Entertainment Museum is located in Baltimore and is dedicated to all sorts of American pop culture: comic books, television, radio, movies, magazines...
Moon Baltimore Book Review: A Great Little Tourist Guide!
We used this guidebook for a long weekend in Baltimore, and never felt the need to consult any other tour books or seek out more information from the Baltimo...
Top Things to Do in Chicago: Highlights of a Family Vacation
We recently spent a seven- day vacation in Chicago, the third- most populous city in the United States. Chicago had plenty to see and do for our entire four- person family, with each of us getting to choose some attraction. There was great art and architec...
Highlights of Chicago's Art Institute: A Family Day Trip
The Art Institute is one of the truly must- see attractions for any visitor to Chicago. World- renowned for its Impressionist, Post- Impressionist, and American paintings, the institute says it contains about 300,000 artifacts and pieces of art spanning mo...
Highlights of the Museum of Science & Industry: A Chicago Family Day Trip
The Museum of Science & Industry on the south side of Chicago is a wonderful place to spend a day for the entire family. The largest science museum in the western hemisphere, it has more than 2,000 things to see or do spread out over 75 halls. Original...
Highlights of the Shedd Aquarium: A Chicago Family Day Trip
The John G. Shedd Aquarium, located right on Lake Michigan near downtown Chicago, is a great and convenient place to spend a day out with your family. The aquarium claims to have more than 32,500 animals spread out throughout its spaces, and even though it...
Highlights of the Navy Pier: A Chicago Family Day Trip
The No. 1 tourist attraction in Chicago - and all of the Midwest - is Chicago's Navy Pier, which receives more than 8. 6 million visitors each year according to the pier's operators. Originally built in 1916 as a shipping and entertainment area,...
Of Family Vacations and Comic Books
Who Are Goldenrulecomics?
For more about who we are and what we write about please see here:
Of Comic Books and Family Vacations: Who is GoldenRuleComics?
Who is GoldenRuleComics? Actually, the better question is who ARE GoldenRuleComics! I am the father of a teenage daughter, and we live in New Jersey. I hand...
I wrote this review because I want people to know about this great place to visit. What do you think about this review, Glenmont, Thomas Edison or anything else that I've mentioned. Here's your chance to speak up!