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Lewis H Latimer House

137th St. and Leavitt St.

Queens

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This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

Lewis Howard Latimer (1848-1928) was an African American inventor and humanist. He lived in this 2.5-story Victorian home from 1903 until the end of his life.

Born free in Chelsea, Massachusetts, Lewis Latimer was the son of fugitive slaves George Latimer and Rebecca Smith, who risked everything to escape from Virginia to Boston in 1842. Upon arrival, George Latimer was captured and imprisoned, which became a pivotal case for the abolitionist movement in Massachusetts. His arrest and the ensuing court hearings spurred multiple meetings and a publication “The Latimer Journal and the North Star”, involving abolitionists like Frederick Douglass. Petitions were signed, one of which sparked the 1843 Personal Liberty Act, and funds were raised on George’s behalf. The large collective effort eventually gained George his freedom by November of 1842.

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