Surrounding the whole was erected a high picket fence with a gate placed on Valley Road. At this point a gate-house was provided and put in charge of a keeper, for then, as at the present time, Edison was greatly sought after; and, in order to accomplish any work at all, he was obliged to deny himself to all but the most important callers. The keeper of the gate was usually chosen with reference to his capacity for stony-hearted implacability and adherence to instructions; and this choice was admirably made in one instance when a new gateman, not yet thoroughly initiated, refused admittance to Edison himself. It was of no use to try and explain. To the gateman EVERY ONE was persona non grata without proper credentials, and Edison had to wait outside until he could get some one to identify him.
On entering the main building the first doorway from the ample passage leads the visitor into a handsome library finished throughout in yellow pine, occupying the entire width of the building, and almost as broad as long. The centre of this spacious room is an open rectangular space about forty by twenty-five feet, rising clear about forty feet from the main floor to a panelled ceiling. Around the sides of the room, bounding this open space, run two tiers of gallery, divided, as is the main floor beneath them; into alcoves of liberal dimensions. These alcoves are formed by racks extending from floor to ceiling, fitted with shelves, except on two sides of both galleries, where they are formed by a series of glass- fronted cabinets containing extensive collections of curious and beautiful mineralogical and geological specimens, among which is the notable Tiffany-Kunz collection of minerals acquired by Edison some years ago. Here and there in these cabinets may also be found a few models which he has used at times in his studies of anatomy and physiology.
The shelves on the remainder of the upper gallery and part of those on the first gallery are filled with
countless thousands of specimens of ores and minerals of every conceivable kind gathered from all parts of the world, and all tagged and numbered. The remaining shelves of the first gallery are filled with current numbers (and some back numbers) of the numerous periodicals to which Edison subscribes. Here may be found the popular magazines, together with those of a technical nature relating to electricity, chemistry, engineering, mechanics, building, cement, building materials, drugs, water and gas, power, automobiles, railroads, aeronautics, philosophy, hygiene, physics, telegraphy, mining, metallurgy, metals, music, and others; also theatrical weeklies, as well as the proceedings and transactions of various learned and technical societies.
The first impression received as one enters on the main floor of the library and looks around is that of noble proportions and symmetry as a whole. The open central space of liberal dimensions and height, flanked by the galleries and relieved by four handsome electric-lighting fixtures suspended from the ceiling by long chains, conveys an idea of lofty spaciousness; while the huge open fireplace, surmounted by a great clock built into the wall, at one end of the room, the large rugs, the arm-chairs scattered around, the tables and chairs in the alcoves, give a general air of comfort combined with utility. In one of the larger alcoves, at the sunny end of the main hall, is Edison's own desk, where he may usually be seen for a while in the early morning hours looking over his mail or otherwise busily working on matters requiring his attention.
At the opposite end of the room, not far from the open fireplace, is a long table surrounded by swivel desk-chairs. It is here that directors' meetings are sometimes held, and also where weighty matters are often discussed by Edison at conference with his closer associates. It has been the privilege of the writers to be present at some of these conferences, not only as participants, but in some cases as lookers- on while awaiting their turn. On such occasions an interesting opportunity is offered to study Edison in his intense and constructive moods. Apparently oblivious to everything else, he will listen with concentrated mind and close attention, and then pour forth a perfect torrent of ideas and plans, and, if the occasion calls for it, will turn around to the table, seize a writing-pad and make sketch after sketch with lightning-like rapidity, tearing off each sheet as filled and tossing it aside to the floor. It is an ordinary indication that there has been an interesting meeting when the caretaker about fills a waste-basket with these discarded sketches.
Directly opposite the main door is a beautiful marble statue purchased by Edison at the Paris Exposition in 1889, on the occasion of his visit there. The statue, mounted on a base three feet high, is an allegorical representation of the supremacy of electric light over all other forms of illumination, carried out by the life-size figure of a youth with half-spread wings seated upon the ruins of a street gas-lamp, holding triumphantly high above his head an electric incandescent lamp. Grouped about his feet are a gear-wheel, voltaic pile, telegraph key, and telephone. This work of art was executed by A. Bordiga, of Rome, held a prominent place in the department devoted to Italian art at the Paris Exposition, and naturally appealed to Edison as soon as he saw it.
In the middle distance, between the entrance door and this statue, has long stood a magnificent palm, but at the present writing it has been set aside to give place to a fine model of the first type of the Edison poured cement house, which stands in a miniature artificial lawn upon a special table prepared for it; while on the floor at the foot of the table are specimens of the full-size molds in which the house will be cast.
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