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Thomas A. Edison statue, Greenfield Village

Edison's statue near the Menlo Park Complex in Greenfield Village
Edison's statue near the Menlo Park Complex in Greenfield Village
Author's Collection

The Henry Ford is one of metro Detroit's most nationally visible attractions, and justifiably so. Where else in the nation can one visit Harvey Firestone's farm, or the Wright Brothers cycle shop? However, one of the greatest attractions for visitors is Thomas Edison's Menlo Park lab, where he invented the lightbulb. This facility is located here because of Ford's deep fondness for Edison, his friend. He so deeply admired him that he brought this entire facility to Michigan from New Jersey, even transporting soil from the building's original location to the Village. Ford dedicated the entire complex to him; the Henry Ford was originally The Edison Institute, and officially remained so until very recent times.

As a furthur honor to him Ford decided to have a statue of him made to be placed in the complex named after him. In the early 1930s Ford hired James Earl Fraser (who was known among other things for designing the United States's Buffalo nickel of the early 20th century) to create this statue. This statue is of Edison in his later years, seated hands in lap. Edison himself posed for it towards the very end of his life. However, it took some time for it to take its place in the Village: the statue was not actually made until 1949, twelve years after the death of Edison and two years after Ford himself died. The statue has been placed in several locations over the years; with the renovations to the Village that were completed in 2003, it has been moved to a most fitting home only a stones throw away from the Menlo Park lab.

Thomas Edison's imprint can still be felt strongly in the Institution that used to bear his name, whether at menlo Park, or at Smith's Creek Station (involved in one of the events of his youth), or in his name personally written into the cornerstone. So the next time you visit and happen to pass this statue, tip your hat and, as Henry Ford did, give honor to this man who gave so much to our modern society.