Edison Botanic Research Laboratory
The Edison Botanic Research Laboratory is one of the most unique features of the Edison Estate.
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 Historical documents and photographs such as the one below were used by the Edison & Ford Winter Estates research team to correctly place items in the laboratory.