March 27, 2019 By Alexa Beyer
A Flushing house museum that preserves the former home of an African American inventor won an award from the New York Landmarks Conservancy (NYLC) yesterday following a recent restoration project.
The Lewis H. Latimer House Museum, located at 34-41 137th St., was among thirteen projects selected by the conservancy to win a 2019 Lucy G. Moses Preservation Award. The award recognizes individuals, organizations, and building owners who preserve historic architecture in New York City.
“The Lucy Moses Award is kind of like the Oscars of the preservation world,” Executive Director of the Latimer House Ran Yan said. “We feel honored and gratified.”
“It’s an important house and Lewis Latimer was an important person,” said NYLC president Peg Breen. “We’re delighted to be able to give them this award.”
Latimer, who was born to former fugitive slaves and lacked a formal education, taught himself technical drawing while enlisted in the Union Navy and drew the illustrations that Alexander Graham Bell used to patent the lightbulb.
As Thomas Edison’s chief draftsman, he invented and patented a new method of making carbon filaments for the incandescent lamp. Throughout his career, he oversaw the installation of street lighting and the construction of electrical plants in many American cities as well as in London and Montreal.
Prior to its restoration, the 1889 residence had deteriorated roofing and siding, peeling paint, and broken shutters. The project included replacing the wood shingle roof to match its historic appearance and repainting the building.
The house, where Latimer lived with his wife for the last 25 years of his life, was originally on Holly Avenue. It was rescued from demolition in 1988 and moved to its current location on 137th Street, where it was turned into a museum.
The NYC Department of Parks & Recreation owns the property, while the Lewis H. Latimer Fund Inc. operates the museum,
The project will be recognized at a special ceremony at The Plaza in Manhattan on April 23.