Thomas Edison's Historical Garage
GIVING EDISON'S CARS A LIFT
Visiting the Thomas Edison Garage at his Glenmont Home Estate is a treat for many visitors each year. The cement garage was built in 1908, and to this day houses one of the earliest electric vehicle charging stations as well as his and his wife's vehicles.
On a good day, over 200 members of the public enjoy the vintage cars, including the Ford Model T he received as a gift from Henry Ford and the electric cars that used Edison’s famous nickel-iron alkaline storage batteries.
In 2017, the Edison Innovation Foundation helped restore the cars and garage for about $2.5 million! The project included restoring the cars (some to running condition), cleaning and repainting the walls and ceiling, repairing some of the special garage features like the rotating turntable, and adding some special educational exhibits for visitors. Learn more about this crucial project below...
The Ford Model T outside Thomas Edison's Cement Garage
Thomas Edison's Electric Cars
1914 Detroit Electric Brougham
This was the preferred vehicle of Mrs. Mina Edison. People often marvel at its “teapot” shaped appearance. The Model 47 has three on-board battery compartments; one forward, one rear and one underneath for auxiliary applications like headlamps, clock and perhaps some heating for the interior. It was advertised as having a range of 80 miles, at a speed of 20 mph.
1911 Detroit Electric Victoria
This was the forerunner of the Brougham. Many photos exist of Thomas being driven in this vehicle by either Mrs. Edison or his sons. The great inventor was a not a very good driver, often making contact with ditches and trees! Notice the absence of a steering wheel (the same for the 1914 model). Dual “tillers” were used: the lower one for steering the front wheels; the upper tiller for acceleration.
The First Electric Charging Station
Edison designed and built this battery charging station in 1908 to charge the Edison alkaline storage batteries that ran his electric vehicles. Today, it is the oldest garage-based charging station in existence (and we thought charging a modern electric vehicle in a garage is something new)!
Thomas Edison's Gasoline Cars
1916 Ford Model T
Edison was gifted this car by his best friend, Henry Ford himself. The Model T (Pictured on the left) had a 4 cylinder, 20 Hp engine that could burn gas, kerosene, or alcohol...with a top speed of about 45 mph. This was also the “Southern Trade” Model which meant it had a 60-inch wide tread, rather than the standard 56-inch tread - so that the cars' wheels could fit wagon ruts on small southern roads like in Fort Meyers!
On the right is the car that Charles Edison owned when he was Governor of New Jersey. Notice the incredible technology and styling changes between the 1916 Model T and the 1936 Brewster. The Brewster has a 65 Hp, V-8 engine (the famous flathead Ford V-8), and with its rejuvenated internals are capable of 100 mph.
A proud Thomas Edison pictured with his 1916 Ford Model T
The rare Brewster underwent a full restoration, including replacing the fenders with exact replicas.
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