Monday, December 20, 2010

A visit to Thomas Edison's House in West Orange

Since I knew that if I didn't act immediately, my planned visit to the Glenmont, Thomas Edison's house in West Orange, would probably fall by the wayside, I went there the next day it was open. And yet again, I was amazed by the things that I knew nothing about that were practically in my backyard.

The Glenmont is located in the Llewellyn Park, in West Orange, New Jersey. What I didn't know about Llewellyn Park is pretty much everything. Like, that it's probably one of the most beautiful parks I've ever seen. Or, that it is the first gated community ever built. Or, that it was a home to many famous people throughout its existence, from inventors to magnates and politicians. And so on.

As impressive as Glenmont was, and let me tell you it was, Llewellyn Park simply took my breath away. If you have an opportunity, do not miss this visit.

And here is a little takeaway from Glenmont: after the guided tour of the house was finished, I walked around the property, just to sort of absorb the experience. While walking, I went back to the servants' entrance, and was struck by the beauty of the stained glass on the door. Here is one of the details:

While doing research about stained glass windows of that era, I found out that this was a very popular shape that can be found in many windows. The Cedars included. Unfortunately for the Cedars, somewhere along the way, somebody removed them, and we were left with "country" squares. Sad, but not permanent. We are told the fix could be as easy as replacing the panes with reproductions. That will be an interesting project!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A visit to Thomas Edison National Historical Park

Well, did you know that the modern life as we know it began in West Orange, New Jersey, not 4 miles from our House? Well, it did, because that's where Thomas Edison had his laboratory and factory complex were and are located. Anything and everything that we probably take for granted today was invented and made there. Coffee maker anyone? Oh, yeah.

For some reason, I kept thinking that all of that was somehow connected to Edison, New Jersey, and couldn't possibly be this close. But, then it occurred to me: at the turn of the 20th century, Newark was the center of the world, minus the stock market. Everything happened there. Industry, manufacturing, trade, arts, you name it.

Back to Thomas Edison. My visit began with the Laboratory Complex. I thought it would be just one of those placating visits, where I rush through the rooms, and move on to the more interesting subject of his home. Well, I thought wrong.

I am not sure how many of you actually know this, but in my heart of hearts, I am a huge geek. I want to know everything and am so proud of myself when I acquire a skill of, let's say, furniture refinishing, or website design. When I entered the lab, I wasn't sure what to expect. I've seen plenty of those, my mom being a lab technician. But, I wasn't prepared for this.

The above is Edison's library at the laboratory building. It has 4 floors of every imaginable book on nature and science published in any imaginable language until the day he died. All the woodwork is white pine. Clearly, designed to impress anyone who walked in. I know I was breathless.

But, then I walked the rest of it. I also made use of the free audio tour. This was posted on the entrance of the work area and several other places throughout the complex:

Genius! The gold mines, of course, was the Music Room and the Photography Lab.

The entire building was still buzzing from the energy, probably imagined by yours truly, but energy nonetheless. I know that I couldn't imagine my life without many of the things that were created here: light bulbs, movies, photographs, elevator, waffle maker, all things that sometimes make us think: how does this work? To step back into history and see where they were created was truly a humbling moment. I hope to come back, again and again and draw inspiration.

Needless to say, I never made it to the house, the Glenmont Estate. Hopefully, it won't wait until next holiday season.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A visit to Kip's Castle

It is sometimes frightening how we don't pay attention to things that are so close to us. Kip's Castle is not only less than a mile away from our House, but several friends from Montclair Historic Society and Victorian Society have pointed it out to me, as well as organized group visits. For various reasons, we never went.

This is why we simply had to go during the Holiday Historic House Tour. And, as the name says, it is a castle. And well worth the visit. Over the years, the Castle had several different owners, some of which were really attentive to the its needs, and some who let it go into disrepair. Fortunately, there are more of those who appreciate Castle's architectural and historic value, so since 2007 it has been a part of Essex County Park System.

The above is an image of the stained glass doors on the main level of the Castle. From the talk with one of the employees, the stained glass work throughout the Castle is being contributed to Louis Tiffany himself, because at the time the Castle was constructed, Mr. Tiffany's work was not being mass produced.

This is an example of the stained glass in the Parlor. But, what really impressed me was the woodwork. Somewhere along the line, somebody decided to paint it white, which seems like such a crime to me, having to deal with that atrocious decorating choice in our own House. But, the beauty will not be hidden, even with so many coats of paint.

If you have some time to spare, do go visit. It will be worth your time. The little ones can easily be entertained in the garden.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A great local holiday tradition

This weekend, we are going on a tour, the Essex County Historic Holiday House Tour. It boasts an impressive line up of 9 architectural gems in the Essex County that should be seen by everybody. And, when you do it as part of the tour, you get to see them all in one weekend. Fun!

We will be going on Sunday, and visiting the properties we haven't had a chance to see yet. Personally, I am very interested in the Kip's Castle (yes, I haven't seen it yet), and Thomas Edison's house. See you there.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

And, we have our culprit

Yup, a little poking around the third floor dormers, and we found this under the window sills:

Apparently, the flashing only went a couple of inches under the sills, leaving a huge gaping hole underneath. So, now every time we get an Easterly wind with rain or snow, it goes right into the walls. Nice, right?!?

Fortunately, it is a very easy fix, one we will attempt sometime next week, after this weekend's rain is done and it dries up a bit.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


In the ceiling...

Yup, we have another leak. Just in time for the holidays!

This one is in our son's bedroom. I suspect it has something to do with the windows on the third floor, but the architect and the contractor are coming tomorrow to confirm.

I noticed this bubble last Spring and the husband got upset with me for pointing it out. I was hoping against hope that it was an old leak that the painters just brushed over, but I knew better.

Well, this was the view I found today when I went to air out the room. Hm. There is significant discoloration under paint that peeled off, so I'm guessing it is an old leak, but it's just showing its ugly head today, after this monstrous storm.