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On my previous visit to Thomas Edison National Historical Park, it was Edison Day and Glenmont was closed to allow all rangers to be on hand at the Laboratory Complex downtown. So I returned a few months later, hoping to see the rest of the park.
Glenmont was Edison’s mansion, about a mile away from the labs and factories in West Orange. It is on 13 acres on a hill in Llewellyn Park, which was America’s first planned residential community.
To take a tour of the house, you must go to the Visitor Center on Main Street and get a ticket. Best to get there early as tickets often sell out by noon. You cannot visit Glenmont, which is in a gated community, without a ticket and a pass for your car.
Edison bought Glenmont for his new bride Mina as a wedding gift. It was a bargain because the original owner, who was a clerk for a dried goods company, built the estate with $250k in embezzled funds. Edison paid $125k for the house, outbuildings, furnishings for 29 rooms and 13 landscaped acres.
Photography is not allowed inside the mansion. The Park Service has kept the home as it was in Edison’s time, with most of his original belongings and furnishings displayed inside. The ranger who led our tour sternly cautioned us not to straggle behind or touch any of the valuable artifacts.
Having previously toured the Laboratory Complex, I wondered if Thomas Edison had spent much time in this home. He was a genius and an insomniac prone to working on inventions through the night and sleeping for an hour here and there on a cot in his lab. But when we went upstairs, the ranger pointed out the family room where Edison enjoyed playing checkers and other games with his children.
Upstairs was the noisy family room where the children could be as loud as they wanted (Edison was partially deaf.) Downstairs were the fancier rooms for entertaining guests. Mina Edison loved the conservatory with its windows and she loved to watch the birds.
Thomas Edison put the house into Mina’s name to separate it from the Edison Company… in case something went wrong with the company they wouldn’t lose their home. Mina sold the house back to the Edison company for one dollar in 1947 with the stipulation that she be allowed to live there until her death and that the house become a museum afterwards.
Mina and Thomas Edison are buried in graves in the back yard.
Edison NHP Posts:
- Laboratory Complex
- Recording Studio (coming soon)
Location: Llewelyn Park, West Orange, NJ 07052
Designation: National Historical Park
Date designation declared: 3/30/2009
Date of my visit: 8/18/2018