Lewis H. Latimer House

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The Lewis H. Latimer House
East side of house

The Lewis H. Latimer House, also called the Latimer House or the Lewis Latimer House, is a historic house located at 34-41 137th Street in Flushing, Queens, New York City. It was constructed in the Queen Anne style of architecture between 1887 and 1889 by the Sexton family.[1] It served as the home of the African-American inventor Lewis Howard Latimer from 1903 to 1928, and is now operated as a museum dedicated to the inventor's work. In addition, this museum-house also illuminated the life and achievements of other black scientists.[2] The house remained property of the Latimer family until 1963. Currently, the Lewis H. Latimer House is owned by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, operated by the Lewis H. Latimer Fund, Inc., and is a member of the Historic House Trust.

History[edit]

The house, purchased by Latimer in 1902 was in a predominantly white neighborhood in Flushing, Queens.[3] Lewis Latimer sought to work together with members of this community to establish a local chapter of the Unitarian Church as part of his belief in racial integration.[3] There were a number of drawings, dated prior to 1885, on which he claimed his credit as "inventor," found within his Queens home.[3]

This house was a two-and-a-half-story frame house.[2]The house itself, prior to Latimer's purchase of it, was said to be 100 years old.[4] Two major alterations were made to the house when Latimer owned the structure [5]. A one-story studio was added to the south-east corner of the home and, in 1912, the attic was enlarged with dormers. After Latimer's death, structural changes were made to the home, such as the enclosing of the front porch. When the house was later moved, the studio was discarded as it was not known to be Latimer’s studio.[5]

Latimer, who supervised installation of the first electric lighting system in the city, was honored in his Flushing home by City Councilman Morton Povman (D-Queens).[6] In February, 1986, Povman, to honor the inventor, presented a City Council proclamation to Latimer's granddaughter Winifred Norman, in which he stated: "There aren't many people who have achieved so much in so many fields".[6] Artist Tom Lloyd stated "There are very few houses related to black people designated as landmarks in New York City and State".[2]

Preservation[edit]

Originally located on Holly Avenue, the Latimer House was moved to its current home in Leavitt Field in 1988 when threatened by demolition.[7] A group of citizens who formed the Committee to Save the Latimer House launched a major campaign in order to preserve this historic house.[4] Two such members were Latimer's grandchildren, Gerald Latimer Norman and Winifred Latimer Norman.[4] Tom Lloyd and Rev. Mitchell with assistance from the Queens Historical Society quickly formed The Committee to Save Latimer House, with those two as co-chairmen; this was done in response to the house’s eminent destruction, reported from William Asadorian, librarian from the Long Island Division of the Queens Borough Public Library.[8] The General Electric Foundation Official Web-site, funded by General Electric, pledged $25,000 of the $36,000 needed to move the house to its new location. [9] According to Mr. Lloyd, the purpose for relocating the house to the city-owned field on Leavitt Street was because the field was across the street from Latimer Gardens, named after Lewis H. Latimer himself.[2]

The Lewis H. Latimer Fund, Inc. (formerly the Committee to Save the Latimer House) became a non-profit in 1990 [10] and has worked on restoring the house to it to its 1912-1928 condition, with renovations including removing the enclosed front porch, re-building Latimer’s studio, and restoring the original layout of the interior rooms. [5]

The Lewis H. Latimer House was designated as a city landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission[11] in 1995 following a hearing.[12][13]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Lewis H. Latimer House". The Historic House Trust of New York City. Archived from the original on February 16, 2008. Retrieved February 4, 2008.
  2. ^ a b c d Fried, Joseph P. (August 6, 1988). "A Campaign to Remember an Inventor". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 November 2018.
  3. ^ a b c Schneider, Janet M. "Blueprint for Change: The Life and Times of Lewis H. Latimer. Queens Borough Public Library. c1995. page 44
  4. ^ a b c Norman, Winifred Latimer, and Lily Patterson. "Lewis Latimer: Scientist". Chelsea House Publishers, New York. c1994. page 89
  5. ^ a b c New York (N.Y.). Department of General Services. Division of Design and Construction Management. (January 30, 1995). Lewis H. Latimer House study and restoration.
  6. ^ a b Anonymous. "Ceremony Honors an Inventor Who Helped Light Up the City". NEWSDAY. 10 FEB. 1986
  7. ^ "Lewis H. Latimer House". The Historic House Trust of New York City. Archived from the original on 2008-02-16. Retrieved 2008-04-05.
  8. ^ Queens Library Store Front Museum/Paul Robeson Theatre Records, 1683-1995, (Bulk 1969-1995) Collection [1]
  9. ^ Fried, Joseph P. (August 9, 1988). "G.E. Offers $25,000 To Help Save House Of Queens Inventor". The New York Times. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
  10. ^ "Lewis H. Latimer Fund Souvenir Journal, Celebration of Achievements Luncheon" (October 24, 1992). The Latimer Family Papers, 1870-1996. Queens Library.
  11. ^ "Landmarks Preservation Commission" (PDF). The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. Retrieved 2008-04-05.
  12. ^ Norimitsu Onishi (1995-02-12). "Neighborhood Report: Queens up Close; Honoring the Past in the Borough of Homes". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-04-05.
  13. ^ "Lewis H. Latimer House". Neighborhood Preservation Center. Retrieved 2008-04-05.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°45′58″N 73°49′46″W / 40.766063°N 73.829402°W / 40.766063; -73.829402