EDISON, NJ - After a three-year, $3.875 million restoration project using a combination of state and private grants, the Edison Memorial Tower on Christie Street was rededicated at an all-day public event Saturday, 77 years after it first opened.
The event, which began with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, was sponsored by the board of the Thomas Edison Center at Menlo Park.
At 7 p.m., the lights on the tower were turned on once again by Edison Mayor Thomas Lankey.
The tower itself has undergone a vast transformation in the three years since the project began including the decorative light bulb on top of the tower which was replaced with LED lighting.
It's been 20 years since the tower had an audio component, but the restoration project included outfitting the structure with MP3 technology.
On the site of the Edison’s Menlo Park’s laboratory from 1876 to 1887, the tower stands in commemoration of the more than 400 inventions Edison created there. They include the phonograph in 1877, the incandescent light bulb in 1879, an underground electrical system in 1880, an electric-powered railway in 1881, and an electrically lit street in 1882.
The tower was dedicated in 1938, seven years after Edison’s death. The last time he had visited the site was in 1925, when the state unveiled a large commutative plaque imbedded in stone that still stands at the corner of Christie Street and Route 27.
“The special relationship Middlesex County shares with the legacy of Thomas Edison has never been forgotten, and this monument is one of the most significant reminders of that relationship,” said Middlesex County Freeholder Director Ronald G. Rios.
“The Tower has long been a symbol of Edison Township and the developments made here by Thomas Edison himself,” said Freeholder Charles E. Tomaro, chair of the County’s Infrastructure Management Committee, who also serves on the Thomas Edison Center Board. “It is only fitting that it should be lit once more for all to enjoy.”
Throughout the day, Patrick Garner, portraying Thomas Edison, was available for photos and a park ranger from the Thomas Edison National Historical Park conducted demonstrations on how recordings were done on wax cylinders.
Activities for children, various area businesses and school bands and choirs were also on hand for the celebration.
The tower's restoration was the result of contributions from the state, county, township and several other benefactors, including individuals, businesses, community groups and civic organizations.
For further information see www.menloparkmuseum.org.