11 Most Endangered Historic Places

Thomas Edison's Invention Factory

Year Listed: 1993
Location: West Orange, New Jersey
Threat: Deterioration, Neglect, Poor Public Policy

thomas_edison_invention_factory.jpg

Photo: Chuck Choi and Beyer Blinder Belle

Significance

In 1887, Thomas Edison built his innovative laboratory – the prototype of the modern industrial lab – and, until his death in 1931, created and perfected over half of his 1,093 patented inventions there.

Owned by the National Park Service, the site includes more than a dozen structures and over five million documents, including Edison's business and personal papers, and some 390,000 objects representing work done throughout his life.

When the site was added to the list of America's Most Endangered Historic Places, basic cataloguing and protection of these artifacts, as well as structural maintenance of the buildings, were needed to prevent deterioration of the great inventor's works.