Lewis Latimer House - Queens History
Lewis Latimer House - African American & Queens History
Flushing / December 13, 2009. The Lewis Latimer House was built by the Sexton family in 1887 – 1889, and subsequently purchased by Lewis Latimer. Lewis was the son of two slaves, made famous during the 1840’s for fleeing their Virginia plantation for Massachusetts where they became the cause celebre of the time – freeing the slaves. Eventually Lewis’s parents were freed, as the abolitionists raised the $400 needed to ‘purchase’ him. Out of this event came the Dred Scott decision, which mandated that slaves must be returned to their ‘owners’.
Lewis Latimer - Early 20th Century American Inventor
Lewis was born in 1848, the fourth child of his parents. His attended school through the 6th grade, at which time his mother sent him and his brothers to work to help the family survive. He joined the Navy at age 15 in 1863 and left it in 1865 with drafting skills. He took up work as an office boy in the patent office, was recognized for his drafting skills and became a draftsman. In 1874 he co-patented an improvement for toilets on trains and later worked for Alexander Graham Bell. In 1881, while working for the U.S. Electric Lighting Company, he received a patent for the process of manufacturing carbons for light bulb filaments. He went to work for Thomas Edison in 1884 and provided significant contributions to the evolution of the telephone. He eventually became an ‘Edison Pioneer’. This was an honor bestowed upon Edison’s high achievers and was bestowed upon only 28 men. They met for the first time on Edison’s 71st birthday.
Lewis Latimer House - Queens Flushing History Circa Late 1800's
The house was a ‘balloon’ house. Apparently, back over a hundred years ago, developers were already working on the prefab construction idea, as a balloon house was erected along standard lines, and then embellished with options, like a long porch, certain types of window awnings and so forth. Lewis expanded upon this by adding a section and dormers to the house as well.
Lewis is survived by one granddaughter, Winfred Latimer Norman, who is currently 95 years old. She was instrumental in saving the house from demolition in 1988 by moving it from its original location on Holly Street about one and a half miles away. She also initiated getting the house set up as a cultural and historic trust that it is today.
The Latimer House is an important cultural attraction by virtue of its connection to a much larger theme: slavery and the evolutionary role of African Americans in American society and culture.
Thanks to Vivian Millicent Warfield for providing much of the information contained herein, and the Queens Historical Society.
Lewis Latimer House Is Queens NY History - Related Links
TBD. Click on this link to view the location where the Lewis Latimer House is located in Flushing Queens. And click here to obtain the Lewis Latimer House contact info.
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