Edison's Workshop Restored
Designated as a National Historic Chemical Landmark in 2014, the Edison Laboratory is a national treasure.
Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Harvey Firestone were concerned about America’s dependence on foreign sources for rubber for its industrial enterprises. As a result, the three men formed the Edison Botanic Research Corporation (EBRC) in 1927. Under Edison’s leadership, the corporation sought a source of rubber that could be grown and produced quickly in the U.S. in the event of a shortage in the foreign supply. After testing over 17,000 plants, Edison eventually discovered a source in the plant Goldenrod.
This laboratory, built in 1928, was the headquarters for Edison and his staff and was operational until 1936 (five years after Edison’s death) when the project was transferred to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The layout of the interior contained a chemical processing area, machine shop, grinding room, office and dark room.
The project to restore the 1928 Edison Botanical Laboratory was led by Edison Ford staff and consultants which included a very diverse group of university professors, scientists, industrial engineers and retired trade workers from the industrial machine shops of the past.
The three-year restoration with overall funding of more than one million dollars provided building stabilization, restoration of exterior siding, windows and roof, state-of-the-art fire suppression and alarm systems, and new building access. Historical documents and photographs such as the one below were used by the Edison & Ford Winter Estates research team to correctly place items in the laboratory.
In 2014, the Laboratory became the first site in Florida to be designated by the American Chemical Society as a National Historic Chemical Landmark. The American Chemical Society established the National Historic Chemical Landmarks program in 1992 to recognize important achievements in the history of the chemical sciences. Achievements recognized through this program have included the discovery and development of penicillin; and the work of historical figures such George Washington Carver and Rachel Carson.