Tesla Wardenclyffe laboratory purchased for museum

-May 05, 2013

Just a few miles from where I live on Long Island, NY, Nikola Tesla’s laboratory still stands and instead of a real estate developer tearing the lab down and building condos, we now have the hope of having a museum to fuel the minds of the new generation of potential engineers and scientists.

Friends of Science East, Inc., dba Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe, have officially announced that it has completed the purchase of the last remaining laboratory of scientist, visionary, and inventor Nikola Tesla in Shoreham, NY. The site was sold by Agfa Corporation, with headquarters in New Jersey.

At the end of August 2012, Tesla Science Center partnered with online comic Matthew Inman (TheOatmeal.com) to hold an online crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.com in which they were able to raise $1.37 million towards saving the Wardenclyffe site. Over 33,000 people from 108 countries contributed to the success of the campaign, which reached the $1 million mark in just over a week.

“This is a major milestone in our almost two-decade effort to save this historically and scientifically significant site. We have been pursuing this dream with confidence that we would eventually succeed,” said Gene Genova, vice president of the organization. “We are very excited to be able to finally set foot on the grounds where Tesla walked and worked.”

Some contributors to the campaign whose generosity made this day possible: Joe Sikorski, Vic Elefante, and Michael Calomino, filmmakers who gave all of their seed money for their film, Fragments From Olympus, to put us over the original goal of $850,000; Greg and Meredith Tally of Denver Best Western, who donated the largest amount; and Dusan Stojanovic, president of True Global Ventures, who provided a matching grant challenge at the end of the campaign, which encouraged contributions to get them well past $1,000,000. Without the help of Matthew Inman, it would have been impossible.

Other contributors were the pro bono work of Ellen Shapiro, Christopher Thomas, and Peter Culp of the law firm Squire Sanders, Ken Pritchard, Robbin Petrella, and the staff of Dvirka & Bertolucci for their donation of technical and environmental consulting, and the surveying and consulting work of Hawkins, Webb, Jaeger. Also, Jim Danowski and the staff at Cullen & Danowski, LLP, who gave their assistance in accounting and finance, our former New York State Assemblyman Marc Alessi for his support; William Terbo, Nikola Tesla's great-nephew, and Joe Kinney, chief engineer at the New Yorker Hotel, for their advice and support. Many other supporters helped too, particularly Mark Baisch, Marc Seifer, and Nikola Lonchar.

Now we begin the next important steps in raising the money needed to restore the historic laboratory. It is estimated that we will need to raise about $10 million to create a science learning center and museum worthy of Tesla and his legacy. We invite everyone who believes in science education and in recognizing Tesla for his many contributions to society to join in helping to make this dream a reality.

I have been to the site numerous times and you can almost hear the Tesla high voltage arcs in the laboratory if you are silent enough. There is a chain-link fence around the grounds and the shrubbery is quite overgrown, but all that will be changing with our help. It is our duty as engineers to keep Tesla’s memory alive and to bring forth his accomplishments in order that maybe a spark of interest in science and engineering will be generated among our next generation “world-builders”

The 15.69-acre laboratory site, known as Wardenclyffe, is where Tesla planned his wireless communications and energy transmission tower. In the early 1900s, Tesla intended to use the tower to transmit electrical energy wirelessly and free to people all over the world. He was never able to complete the construction of the tower due to lack of funds, and in 1917 the tower was demolished, to be sold for scrap to pay his debts. The laboratory building, designed by Stanford White, Tesla’s friend and one of the most influential architects of his time, still remains. TSC plans to establish a museum dedicated to Tesla and a science learning center on the site and in the former laboratory, once it can be restored and renovated.

The organization plans several fundraising events in the future. More information can be found on the website, at the Facebook page (Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe), and via Twitter @teslascience. Jane Alcorn is the President at the Tesla Science Center.

Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe is a 501 (c) 3 not-for-profit corporation in the state of New York, dedicated to saving and restoring Wardenclyffe, and transforming it into a science learning center and museum.

And, stay tuned for the Tesla movie: Tower to the people. You can find more information on the Facebook page and Website.

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