Edison in Middlesex County, New Jersey — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Sarah B. Jordan Boarding House
In the fall of 1878, Thomas Edison asked Sarah Jordan, a relative of his wife Mary, to open and operated a boarding house in Menlo Park. She was the daughter of the first wife of Maryís father Nicholas Stilwell. Moving from Newark, N.J., Sarah rented one of two newly constructed, identical neighboring duplexes across the street from the lab. To staff the boarding house, she employed her daughter, Ida, and a forty-two year old servant, Kate Williams. Between 1878 and 1881, at least seventeen of Edisonís laboratory employees took their room and board at the Jordan Boarding House. Sarah Jordanís boarding house also served as a community lunchroom and as a center for after-work activity. At least six others boarded at the second duplex, which was rented by tool makers Charles Dean and William Wright, who also lived there with their families. The proximity of the two homes to the lab facility allowed their inhabitants to easily travel to work, especially when their services were required well into the night as Edison was fond of doing. Although neither boarding house was owned by Edison, the community, nevertheless, had the atmosphere
This sign marks the physical location where the Dean house once stood and commemorate (sic) the historical importance of both structures. The Dean house was directly adjacent to the Sarah Jordan Boarding House. The Dean house and the Jordan House were essentially identical and the layout is depicted above. The two boarding houses were reportedly among the four houses lighted by Edisonís newly perfected electrical system and incandescent bulb during the New Yearís demonstrations that took place on December 31, 1879, and January 1, 1880. A steam engine in the machine shop drove three direct-current dynamos which provided the current to light the bulbs in the laboratory complex and home.
After Edison abandoned the laboratory complex at Menlo Park, the buildings were used as residences and farm buildings. During the 1910ís, most of the laboratory buildings were severely damaged by fire and scavenging by local residents. In 1922, Henry Ford visited the site with the intention of moving the complex to his new museum of Americana, Historic Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan. At the time, only the laboratory foundations remained. The Sarah Jordan Boarding House was still intact and Fordís workers dismantled and moved it along with soil and trash heaps from the laboratory complex.
Historical information provided by Dr. Paul Israel, Michael J. Gall, RGA Inc., and Kathleen Carlucci, Edison Tower Commission
Eagle Project of Steven J. Zederbaum
Boy Scout Troop 17
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & Commerce • Science & Medicine. A significant historical date for this entry is January 1, 1880.
Location. 40° 33.796′ N, 74° 20.281′ W. Marker is in Edison, New Jersey, in Middlesex County. Marker is at the intersection of Christie Street and Tower Street, on the right when traveling west on Christie Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 37 Christie Street, Edison NJ 08820, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Thomas Edisonís Office 1879 to 1884 (within shouting distance of this marker); Thomas Alva Edison Memorial Tower (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Invention of the Phonograph (about 300 feet away); Thomas Edison and the Electric Railway (about 300 feet away); Thomas Alva Edisonís Menlo Park Invention Factory (about 400 feet away); Thomas Alva Edison Menlo Park Memorial The Oak Tree Engagement and the Battle of the Short Hills (approx. 2.2 miles away); Devonshire (approx. 2.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Edison.
Also see . . .
1. Sarah Jordan Boarding House. The Henry Ford entry (Submitted on December 8, 2020, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York.)
2. Sarah Jordan Boarding House. Greenfield Village Memories entry (Submitted on December 8, 2020, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York.)
Credits. This page was last revised on December 11, 2020. It was originally submitted on December 8, 2020, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York. This page has been viewed 53 times since then and 10 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. submitted on December 8, 2020, by Larry Gertner of New York, New York.