Illuminated Texts

Personally wired by Thomas Edison, J. Pierpont Morgan’s home was the first electrified residence in New York. A recent LED retrofit delivers the library into a new age.

In the 1880s, electricity was a terrifying but exhilarating concept. The idea that one could escape the smell and drudgery associated with gas lamps, particularly in one’s own home, was tantalizing but the risks involved—fiery destruction to person and property, namely—deterred even those with cash and courage to spare. Enter J. Pierpont Morgan, one of the country’s wealthiest citizens and no stranger to calcuated risk. He was in the process of building a monument to his riches in the form of a brownstone on Madison Avenue, and he decided that Thomas Edison, the pioneer of a new incandescent technology, should outfit the home. A trench was dug, a steam-powered generator installed, and two small house fires later, the structure became the first successfully electrified residence in New York— and the country’s most modern home. Over a century later, original library fixtures were replaced with discreet tracks of LED bulbs, ensuring that its future will continue to burn bright.

Originally published

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