By Anya Bochman
The Glenmont Estate in West Orange, built in 1880, had a less than illustrious start when its original owner, Henry Pedder, was jailed for embezzlement. According to Karen Sloat-Olsen, chief of Interpretation and Education at the Thomas Edison National Historical Park, the house was subsequently put on the market. Thomas Edison, newly engaged to his second wife Mina Miller in 1886, saw the grand house for sale and bought it for his bride as a wedding present.
The 29-room mansion sits amid rolling lawns and includes a barn and carriage house on the property. Miller Edison, as well as the Edison children, made renovations and additions to the estate over time; new greenhouses were erected on the grounds, and a garage – to accommodate Edison’s interest in cars – was added to the house.
Today, these sights are available to curious visitors; the greenhouses are functional and managed by volunteers, and the garage includes an original charging panel and gas pump for cars of the era – as well as automobiles owned by Edison. The first and second floors of Glenmont Estate, which include original furnishings, are available for viewing.
The estate is part of the Thomas Edison National Historical Park in Llewellyn Park in West Orange, a site “dedicated to promoting an international understanding and appreciation of the life and extraordinary achievements of Thomas Alva Edison by preserving, protecting and interpreting the Park’s extensive historic artifact and archive collections.”
The property has been open for tours since October; starting on Nov. 24 through Jan. 7, the inventor’s home will undergo a special program called “Holidays at Glenmont.”
During this period, Glenmont Estate will be decorated in the style it saw when inhabited by the Edison family. Selected musical pieces will accompany tours, with greenery and red poinsettias decking the mantles above the fireplaces. Staircases will be ringed with boughs and red ribbons, with wreaths decorating every window.
According to a press release by the park, “in the den, the majestic 10-foot tree will be lit and the presents underneath will be waiting as if the Edison children Madeleine, Theodore and Charles will soon come running down the stairs from their rooms.”
The holiday tours will be offered on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m.; the site will be closed on Sunday, Dec. 24. Spring tours on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays will begin again on Friday, March 30, 2018.
Visitors to the estate must purchase car passes and tour tickets at the Laboratory Complex Visitor Center. Admission is $10, and includes the Glenmont Estate and the Laboratory Complex, as well as the surrounding estate grounds. Children under age 16 are free, as are seniors with valid senior passes.
Sloat-Olsen points out that Llewellyn Park is a private residential community – necessitating the car passes in order to get to the Edison residence.
“The tickets sell out quickly due to limited space, so it’s advisable for visitors to come fairly early,” Sloat-Olsen says.
The Visitor Center of the Park is located at 211 Main Street in West Orange. For more information or directions, call 973-736-0550, ext. 11 or visit www.nps.gov/edis.