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Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park
Research & Experimental Building

Research and Experimental Building - Menlo Park The laboratory building in Greenfield Village’s Menlo Park is a replica of the original 100 foot long laboratory building which was constructed of oak wood and was 25 feet wide. The building has two floors and an attic that was used for storage. The front of the building has a porch on the first floor and balcony on the second floor. The building has 7 windows on each side, and the front has 3 windows on the second floor while the first floor has 2 windows and a door in the center. The rear of the building is basically the same, but without a porch.

Thomas Edison sent agents all over the world seeking ores that might yield elements needed in his research or in the production of electric products. John Lawson analyzed these ore samples using equipment on the Assay Bench and scales located in this building.

Research and Experimental Building - Menlo Park By 1880, Edison was selling telephones that incorporated his several patented improvements. The telephones were assembled and packed for shipping in the Telephone Room located on the first floor.

Chemist Alfred Haid, one of several specialists on Edison's staff, conducted experiments in Chemistry Nook (see picture below), a room located on the first floor. Haid analyzed ore samples and tested refining processes as part of the search for electrically efficient metals.

Edison demonstrated a method using electricity to extract chlorine, a gas used in refining metal ores, from common salt water. Electricity generated by dynamos was sent through salt water held in a central wooden chlorine tank. This caused an electro-chemical reaction producing chlorine water. However, the process was never widely used.

Research and Experimental Building - Menlo Park Edison’s workers used three furnaces, located on the first floor, to heat strips of bamboo, wood, and other materials in airtight graphite boxes. The heated strips did not burn but were transformed into thin carbon strands that were tested as light bulb filaments.

The first floor houses a galvanometer, which measured the amount of electric current used to run a motor or light a light, was wired to experiments throughout the complex. It was so sensitive to vibration that it had to be anchored to brick pillars embedded in the ground.

The photometer located in a room on the first floor, was used to measure and compare the amount of light produced by light bulbs. Edison’s team tried thousands of filament materials in hundreds of shapes and connected sockets. This testing of various combinations continued even after Edison’s successful demonstration of an incandescent bulbs in 1879.

Edison kept his laboratory supplied with the finest scientific equipment available at the time. He also kept a wide selection of chemicals and other materials on hand in the event they were needed for unanticipated research projects.

The second floor of this building is where many of Edison’s most famous inventions were created. The chair in the middle of the floor was nailed to the floor after Edison had sat in it after the dedication ceremonies in Greenfield Village on October 21, 1929.
Research and Experimental Building - Menlo Park Research and Experimental Building - Menlo Park Research and Experimental Building - Menlo Park

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