Edison Birthplace Museum9 North Edison Drive
Milan, Ohio 44846
419-499-2135 | www.tomedison.org
Thomas Alva Edison in Ohio
While other states might claim Thomas Alva Edison as a resident, Ohio claims him as a native son. The Friends of the Edison Birthplace maintain the small house where he was born.
Built in 1841, the home of Samuel and Nancy Edison is filled with memorabilia associated with Thomas Edison’s life and career. Furnishings include his Mother’s nursing bench, portraits, and other items donated by family members. Many of Edison’s inventions are on display, including telegraph machines, lightbulbs, and a mechanical doll. The house has been restored to its 1847 appearance.
Thomas Alva Edison was born in 1847, the youngest of seven children. Edison’s father manufactured shingles, and for a time his business thrived as boats on the nearby canal carried his goods far and wide. With the profits of his trade, he was able to build a modest three-story brick home for his family. However, when the railroad bypassed Milan, canal traffic dwindle; the family sold the house in 1854 and moved to Port Huron, Michigan. Edison’s sister, Marion Edison Page, purchased the house in 1894 and modernized it with a bathroom. However, she did not add electricity; when Edison visited in 1923, he was rather surprised to find it still illuminated by oil lamps and candles.
Although he lived in Milan only seven years, this simple house made a profound impression on the great inventor; he purchased it from Marion in 1906.
After Edison’s death, his wife Mina and her daughter set about turning the house into a museum. As much as possible, the house was restored to reflect the mid-nineteenth century. It opened to the public in 1947, on the centennial of Edison’s birth; it was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1965.
Notes for Travelers
The docents at the Edison Birthplace Museum provide superb tours of the house and its furnishings, offering stories behind each artifact. Although the house is small, plan on spending at least one hour on the tour. While visiting, look for Percy, a bold peacock who has taken up residence on the grounds.
The museum is not open in January, but offers extended hours during the summer months; check the museum website for details.