Sunday, August 5, 2012

Thomas Alva Edison's Birthplace

We went to church this morning at St. Peter's UCC in Amherst. I made a Watergate Salad yesterday so that we could take it to the potluck after church. It had been raining all morning so the minister announced that the potluck would be indoors rather than outside as planned. He didn't mention, however, that the potluck was not going to start right after church which is what he said last week. So, many of us sat in their Fellowship Hall for over an hour without any sign of chicken being delivered. Finally one of the Council members who wasn't in charge decided to order chicken from a place in town. A couple of folks left to pick it up. They were gone about 20 minutes when the chicken and a bunch of other church members showed up. So, we finally had lunch.

It wasn't a negative experience though as we were able to talk to a bunch of people from the church and get to know them better. Everyone said it had to be the first time in this church that something like this happened as they are normally much more organized. I told them we probably brought that and the rain on!

Thomas Alvin Edison Museum
After church we went home and changed clothes and headed for the Thomas Edison birth place in Milan, Ohio. There is a small Visitor Center and Museum where you buy your tickets for the tour and then the house itself on the grounds. We really enjoyed the museum as there was a guide and he demonstrated several of Thomas Edison's inventions. We listened to his first versions of a phonograph on tubes instead of records and then to his crank record player. It is amazing the sound he achieved on all of them.
Thomas Alva Edison Birthplace

Our Guide in the Museum

Edison Always Took A Bunch of Notes

We found out that there are a few of his original light bulbs that are still burning today. There is one in the fire station in Milan. Edison learned that in order to sell them he had to build in obsolescence so he changed the filament from bamboo to tungsten steel and they are still made that way. The fire station in Milan never shuts off the light because what will cause to quit is shutting it off and on. 

Then we had a guided tour of the home. It looks really small from the front but it a three story from the back. The kitchen is in the basement. The house is very close to the old three mile canal that was used to bypass the river that was unnavigable for that short distance. In the 1840's Milan was the second largest grain shipper in the world, second only to Odessa, Russia. It was their Golden Age. Unfortunately, as larger and larger ships came into being the canal was less useful. Also the Railroad was coming into the area. Milan had the opportunity to have the railroad go through town but the town elders decided they didn't need it so the railroad went to Norwalk which south of Milan. Their prosperity ended because of that decision. Nothing is as certain as change!

Unfortunately, the guided tour of the house was done by a young lady who was just starting and we were her first tour. She was pretty nervous and couldn't remember all the things she had memorized so she kept losing her place and kept referring to her notes. Fortunately, whenever she really got in bad shape which was often, another guide took over for her until she could get her composure back. We had to feel sorry for her but it made our tour run long and it was a little frustrating. I'm sure she'll get there but it is never fun to be the one that is used for practice!

The Kitchen
Nancy Elliott Edison, Thomas Edison's Mother, purchased the lot where the birthplace stands in 1841 and Samuel Edison started building the house later that year. Thomas Edison was born in the home in 1847. The house was sold in 1854 and the family moved to Port Huron, Michigan. Then in 1894 Thomas Edison's sister, Marion Edison Page, purchased the home again and added a bathroom and a couple of closets to the bedrooms. Thomas Edison then purchased the house from her in 1906. He visited the house for the last time in 1923 and found that his home was the only home in Milan that was still being lit by oil lamps and candles. Needless to say, it then hooked up to electricity!

The Master Bedroom

Edison's wife and daughter restored the house to its appearance in the 1840's and it opened in 1947 on the centennial of Thomas Edison's birth. The home and museum still have Edison family representation on the Board of the Edison Birthplace Association who own and operate the birthplace in memory of Thomas Alva Edison.

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