A $2.4 million contract has been awarded for the long-awaited restoration of Edison Memorial Tower, a historic structure in Edison State Park in Middlesex County that honors the inventor Thomas Alva Edison, state Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin announced Thursday.
Astral Construction Services of Bergenfield is expected to begin in the near future to repair the Art Deco monument that dates to 1937. The tower has been closed to the public and surrounded by a cyclone fence for several years because of crumbling concrete that made the structure hazardous.
"This is a terrific collaborative effort to restore an important piece of the state's history, and to honor one of its great residents — Thomas Alva Edison,'' Martin said. "It is part of our continuing effort to protect the state's existing natural and historic resources, an effort that is a priority for the Christie Administration. We are delighted to see this restoration work finally begin.''
Funding for the project includes $1.5 million in Corporate Business Tax revenue and additional state funds, and 4875,000 from the Middlesex County Open Space, Recreation, Farmland and Historic Preservation Trust Fund, and the Edison Memorial Tower Corp. a nonprofit group dedicated to preserving the tower.
"The Edison Memorial Tower Corporation appreciates the community's ongoing support for this restoration project," Nancy Zerbe, the organization‘s president, said. "We hope the public will join us this summer to watch the scaffolding go up and the work get under way.''
The tower is located within the 36-acre Edison State Park, which is jointly administered by the DEP, Edison Township, and the Edison Memorial Tower Corp. The park's historic elements, known collectively as the Thomas Edison Center at Menlo Park, include the tower, several smaller commemorative monuments, a museum devoted to Edison, and the foundations of some of Edison's original laboratory buildings.
The park is the site of Edison's Menlo Park laboratory, where the inventor established the world's first organized research and development laboratory, perfected the incandescent lamp, developed a complete system for generating and distributing electric current, and invented the phonograph.
In addition to making the structure safer, work to be done on the tower includes cleaning and restoring the exposed aggregate concrete; restoration of lighting, including the large Pyrex glass light bulb at the top of the structure; replacement of the speaker system; restoration of the bronze door and plaques around the perimeter of the base; restoration of the stone plaza, and electrical, plumbing, and drainage repairs.
Architectural management will be provided by Mills & Schnoering Architects of Princeton.
— TOM HESTER SR., NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM