Lewis H Latimer House

Historic House Trust Of NYC Grants $100,000 To Historic Houses Across The City And Celebrates Black History Month At Latimer House In Queens

Friday, February 13, 2015
No. 12

NYC Parks Queens Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski today joined Historic House Trust Executive Director Franklin Vagnone, Council Member Mark Weprin, Congresswoman Grace Meng representative Donald Capalbi, Council Member Koo representative Ian Chan, and seniors from the Jamaica Service Program for Older Adults Friendship Center at the Lewis H. Latimer House in Queens to present a $100,000 grant from the Historic House Trust to the City's historic houses and to celebrate Black History Month.

"From Bartow-Pell Mansion in the Bronx to Conference House at the tip of Staten Island to all our Queens houses in between, our houses preserve our history for students to experience firsthand and they serve as community centers for neighborhoods across the boroughs," said Queens Parks Commissioner Lewandowski. "NYC Parks thanks the Historic House Trust for their generous contribution and we thank the house directors for all they do all year long to make New York City history come alive in our houses."

"The Historic House Trust is proud to present our historic house directors with grants totaling $100,000 that will help them continue to provide a vital community resource for neighborhoods across the city," said HHT Executive Director Franklin Vagnone. "HHT is committed to supporting NYC Parks' 23 historic houses in its collection to ensure they remain for generations to come so that visitors can get a hands-on experience of New York City and American history."

“Queens has a deep appreciation for our cultural institutions, which are major economic drivers for our borough. Significant grants like these encourage tourism in the World’s Borough, and are important investments that help to keep our families discovering, visitors coming and folks investing," said Borough President Melinda Katz. "The preservation of this historic collection of properties, which includes the Lewis H. Latimer House, Bowne House, Queens County Farm Museum, King Manor Museum and Kingsland Homestead in Queens, is necessary in order to provide our City’s residents and visitors with important and vibrant connections to our City’s rich history. I thank the Historic House Trust and NYC Parks for their ongoing efforts to keep history alive in New York City.”
“It is an honor to celebrate Black History Month at the Latimer House – the home of Lewis H. Latimer, an inspirational African-American electrical engineer who overcame the odds by playing a critical role in the development of the telephone and light bulb,” said Council Member Mark S. Weprin.

NYC Parks' historic houses will receive general operating support grants totaling $100,000 from the Historic House Trust to help further their missions in the communities they serve. Grants will go towards everything from educational programming to community outreach events to general maintenance. The 23 houses in the Historic House Trust's collection reach over 300,000 New York City school children and more than 800,000 visitors annually, teaching them about New York City's diverse culture, history, and architecture. Over the past 15 years, HHT has re-distributed over $1 million in general operating grants to further the missions of historic house museums in all five boroughs.

In honor of Black History Month, the check was presented at the Lewis H. Latimer House in Flushing, Queens. Latimer was an African-American inventor, electrical pioneer and son of fugitive slaves, who lived in the house from 1903 until his death in 1928. Born in 1848, he was determined to overcome his lack of formal education and taught himself mechanical drawing while in the Union Navy and became an expert draftsman. Latimer played a critical role in the development of the telephone and, as Edison's chief draftsman, he invented and patented the carbon filament, a significant improvement in the production of the incandescent light bulb.

Today, like many houses in the collection, the house is in a diverse and thriving neighborhood and hosts various workshops including a Tinkering Workshop, in which the Friendship Center seniors had fun crafting artwork this morning. In the spirit of invention, Tinkerers find new ways to incorporate materials once used in electronics, computers, and industry to create their own bold, unique works of art. The house also offers events in both English and Mandarin to attract its many Chinese neighbors. The Lewis H. Latimer House is owned by NYC Parks, operated by the Lewis H. Latimer Fund, Inc., and is a member of the Historic House Trust.

The Historic House Trust works in tandem with NYC Parks and nonprofit partners to restore, interpret, and promote our historic sites, which span 350 years of New York City history. From modest farmers’ cottages to grand mansions, the sites in the Trust’s collection are located in all five boroughs and chronicle a wide range of cultural, historical, and architectural aspects of New York City life. For more information on the houses in the Historic House Trust's collection visit www.historichousetrust.org.

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