Thomas Edison resided at Glenmont, his 29 room Victorian mansion, for over half of his lifetime. Its architect, Henry Hudson Holly, is considered to be the father of the Queen-Anne style architectural movement in the United States. Holly's crowning achievement, Glenmont, was part of a working estate which presently contains six outbuildings, including a barn and a greenhouse. Examples of Thomas Edison's poured concrete structures, the auto garage and the potting shed, are also still in existence.
The interior of the fully furnished Victorian home is a rare example of Pottier & Stymus interiors, a New York decorating firm that lost the majority of its records in a catastrophic warehouse fire in the year 1888. Glenmont's interiors display rare examples of the firm's modern Gothic style furniture suites and also include decorative arts objects chosen by the company to outfit this home in in Victorian style. The Edison family appreciated the original interiors, consequently making only minimal changes to the home's decoration during their residency.
Glenmont's period rooms reflect examples of the era's Eastlake style and Aesthetic Movement style interiors. The first floor library boasts hand stenciled walls in flat, stylized floral patterns with a ceiling of distemperment. Tall case cabinets store leather bound volumes.
The decorative arts collection at Glenmont ranges from major works of art and sculpture to everyday objects. The collection, consisting of 40,000 items, includes remarkable examples of Hudson River School artists, Tiffany & Co. clocks, French porcelains, and Persian rugs.
Examples of more utilitarian collection items include the Edison china collection, still housed in the historic Butler's Pantry, the household linen collection, family toiletry items, books, and household receipts that detail purchases made by the Edison family. These vouchers reveal to us the Edisons' choice of household products and also their spending habits.
The Glenmont collection also includes rare examples of Edison family memorabilia such as photographs, awards, and family mementos. Examples of Edison inventions are also represented. These artifacts offer us valuable information about Edison's private life, his status as an icon, and they also reveal how he intertwined his products and inventions with his personal life at Glenmont.
Did You Know?
Thomas Edison had 1093 patents and one of them was a way to preserve fruits and vegetables. Patent 248,431, issued March 18, 1883. It wasn't just about phonographs, batteries, and movies.