Thomas Edison National Historical Park: Laboratory Complex


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The Thomas Edison National Historical Park preserves the home and laboratories of the prolific inventor. The mansion in Llewellyn Park and the laboratory in West Orange were two separate NPS sites in the 1950s. They were combined into one park, restored and re-opened in 2009.


I arrived at the visitor center on Edison Day! The good thing about visiting on Edison Day was that there were rangers and docents in every room of the laboratory buildings giving tours or demonstrations. The not-so-good: no tours of the nearby mansion because all rangers were needed in the lab complex.


Over one thousand inventions came out of Edison’s New Jersey laboratories, including the incandescent light bulb, the phonograph, batteries and motion picture cameras. It was the invention of the stock market ticker that made Edison wealthy and provided him the means to open his laboratories. Science!


Location: 211 Main St, West Orange, NJ 07052

Designation: National Historical Park

Date designation declared: 3/30/2009

Date of my visit: 6/02/2018

A movie camera in Edison’s library/office
The machine shop on the 1st floor of the laboratory
A mold created in the machine shop for phonograph records. This was put into use at the factories in the complex.
Edison forever changed the world with the invention of the electric light bulb in his Menlo Park lab in 1879.
Edison’s three-story library and office in the laboratory building
Edison actually preferred working in this less fancy office/lab to his ornate library
The tape-recorder’s predecessor…this machine stored voice recordings on wax cylinders.
A recording studio on the third floor.
This is the chem lab in a smaller building next to the main lab building. A fire started in a lab like this in 1914 and burned down 13 factory buildings.
The Black Maria is on the left of this photo. This building was designed for recording motion pictures.


23 thoughts on “Thomas Edison National Historical Park: Laboratory Complex

    1. Lived in NY and NJ all my life and this was my first visit. Walked by it for years in the Ovarian Cancer 5k, but never went in. I did go back again last month to visit the mansion and attended a ranger talk in the music studio (posts coming at a later date) Still would return for some of the other ranger programs. Fascinating place!

    1. Thanks! It is a really well done restoration and both times I’ve been there the rangers and docents really made the visit. It’s a long trek from South Jersey, so call ahead to make sure they are touring the mansion before you go that way you can hit both sites on the same day. The (free) mansion tickets sell out by noon on weekends too, so arrive early.

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  2. Anonymous

    I just loved this blog. I would probably never had got to see Edison’s laboratory and all his wonderful inventions otherwise. Most interesting thank you.

  3. I went here when I was a child and then again about 2 years ago. When I was a child, it was a state park. I noticed that since the NPS took over, there’s a lot less access to the different areas. I had been able to walk all around the lab, and look into the little movie machine. Now those are both restricted. Better for the artifacts.

    1. There is a State Park site in Menlo Park (his first lab)…I haven’t been there, but I think that is where our schools went on class trips in the 70s and 80s (not sure why I missed that trip)…will have to check it out someday

  4. mvobsession

    I was there a few years ago and just like one of the other commenters I’ve lived in NJ all my life and not far from here and never went there, not even on a school trip. Enjoyed your pictures and the different take you had on some of the same ones I took 🙂

  5. I really like your entry’s as well. Who knows? Maybe we are seeing one another at these sites and just passing by each other. You should check out the James Rose site in Ridgewood, NJ that I just visited and this weekend at the Meadowlands Museum in Rutherford, NJ that are having the Scarecrow Festival in the afternoon. That would be great picture taking for you.


    Justin Watrel, Blogger

      1. Yes, I heard about that when I was in Cape May. I climbed their lighthouse. I don’t know what the fuss was though. I got up in about ten minutes.

        I hope you enjoy it. Also, don’t miss the Pumpkin Blaze in Cronton on the Hudson that the Hudson Valley Historical Society puts on each year. That is something!

      2. The challenge isn’t to climb up (although I’d like to in all locations offering it.) It’s to visit all the participating sites in one weekend…there are 10-11. You get validated at each place and when you complete your ‘board’, you are entered in a drawing for $1000. It’s to raise money for the participating sites, just like history day in Bergen County. I won’t be completing the challenge (too many miles to drive) but will have fun trying.

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