I was really drawn to Edison’s little office—probably because I love dark, wood spaces and places where you can sit and comfortably talk. The brochure I picked up at the Edison and Ford Estates said this cottage was built in 1929. Don’t you just love the phonograph in the back corner? Edison invented a tin-foil phonograph in 1877. The word phonograph was his trademark name. The sound quality, however, was pretty bad and a single recording lasted only for one play! Alexander Graham Bell later developed the graphophone, which used wax cylinders and could be played repeatedly.
The story of the “little office” (his term, not mine) is tangled. It was built to replace Edison’s original laboratory, which was dismantled and moved to Henry Ford’s Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan in 1928. After the lab was removed, Ford funded the construction of this office building and also the garden in the back, which was know as the Moonlight Garden. It became a favorite place of the Edisons as they grew older.
Water lilies, papyrus, and iris were three of Mina’s favorite plants. Ellen Biddle Shipman, who was one of the first female landscape architects, designed the garden. She filled it with blue and white flowers and a a small pool to reflect the moonlight.