Pictures of the damage wrought by the recent fire at Nikola Tesla’s last remaining laboratory, which is now the Tesla Science Center. Photos provided by the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe.
We have written extensively about the visionary inventor Nikola Tesla and endeavors to transform his last remaining laboratory into a museum to accurately tell this remarkable man’s story, a science center to educate and inspire the public, and a global innovation center to – in the exceptionally altruistic spirit of “The Great Electrician” – serve the world. Last spring, we were thrilled to witness an important groundbreaking, representing a key milestone toward achieving this dream.
You may have heard that a devastating fire erupted at the Shoreham site on November 21st. While the cause is still being investigated, arson has been ruled out. Folks involved are exceptionally grateful that, thanks to the tireless efforts of more than 100 firefighters*, hope for the “Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe” is not lost. While the recently replaced chimney and cupola were significantly damaged, it is fortunate that the historic laboratory complex was still in the early stages of its ambitious, $20-million restoration and redevelopment.
The four walls of the brick structure remain standing. However, damage to the international treasure is serious. Assessments are still being conducted. Mark Thaler, the Center’s historical architect has stated that, “Despite the valiant efforts of the first responders, the laboratory is sadly, still at great risk.”
The biggest threat is exposure to the elements due to a devastated roof, and the need to quickly replace compromised steel girders. They estimate it will take $3M to ensure the fire hose soaked structure is sufficiently dried, quickly as possible physically cover the structure and provide urgent, internal stabilization.
A Message from Executive Director Marc Alessi
“Please, we need your help. If you can pitch in at this critical time there is still hope to save the lab. With this crowdfund, we can:
1. Make emergency repairs to the lab to replace the roof we lost in the fire and prevent further water intrusion in the lab from rain. The risk is allowing that water to continue to get in. As the temperatures drop this winter, that water that seeps intro the brick walls can freeze and then cause cracks in the walls. The emergency repairs are essential. The first $3M goal will help get the project back on track and protect the lab.
2. Anything we raise beyond the original goal will go towards the remaining balance needed to complete the entire project. Prior to the fire we had $6M left to raise on a $20M capital construction campaign. That number remains the same. If we add it to the $3M crowdfunding goal, a total of $9M is needed to complete the project.
I know this is doable. I know so many in our community both locally and globally share our vision and our mission to ressurect Nikola Tesla’s last standing lab and open it as a museum and science center.”
It’s been quite a journey for the folks involved to get here and while construction itself had just started, much more has been developed. Thank you to all who feed enduring optimism, support endeavors to honor this historic site, and keep the spirit of Nikola Tesla alive.
Coverage of the Fire and TSCW's Future
Some of these may have paywalls. Others may rely on advertising. Thank you to all who support quality local journalism.
A heartfelt editorial by TBR News Media on why places like this are so important: “Channeling Tesla — A path to preserve history, promote science and advance progress”
Video coverage from Jenifer McLogan CBS News: “Historic Nikola Tesla laboratory on Long Island damaged in devastating fire”
and Cecelia Dowd for News 12: “Tesla Science Center Asks for Donations Following Massive Fire”
Coverage weaving than and now from by Jennifer Ouellette on Artstechnica.com: Nikola Tesla’s historic Wardenclyffe lab site at risk after devastating fire”
Some excellent reporting by Adina Genn, Long Island Business News: “After fire, Tesla Science Center launches $3M fund drive”
A bit on the optimism and irony that always seems to accompany Nikola Tesla, including now from Sara McGiff at WSHU: “Fire at NY Tesla Science Center hasn’t dampened hopes for the future”
You can follow the Tesla Science Center itself as it navigates this great challenge.
For background, here’s a really cool series of articles published in LI Business News in 2013 and 2014:
5/2/13 by Bernadette Starzee: Tesla Shoreham lab sold to science nonprofit
10/7/13 by Claude Solnick: Q&A: Jane Alcorn, Tesla Science Center
3/17/14 by Dan O’Regan: Follow Up: Jane Alcorn, Tesla Science Center
2/12/16 by Claude Solnick: Power to (and from) the People
Here’s a fascinating, award winning documentary: “Tower to the People”
Here’s the piece I wrote with Neil Baggett, “Nikola Tesla: The Man, The Myth, The Legacy”
Visit The TSCW Website for so much more.
* “𝗧𝗵𝗮𝗻𝗸𝘀𝗴𝗶𝘃𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗦𝘁𝗮𝘁𝗲𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗼𝗳 𝗚𝗿𝗮𝘁𝗶𝘁𝘂𝗱𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝗢𝘂𝗿 𝗙𝗶𝗿𝘀𝘁 𝗥𝗲𝘀𝗽𝗼𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗿𝘀” from the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe:
“As we gather with our families and friends this Thanksgiving, the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe extends our gratitude to the extraordinary first responders who safeguarded our cherished landmark – as well as the surrounding community – by successfully battling Tuesday night’s fire. By overcoming the flames well into Wednesday morning, they demonstrated true courage and commitment during our time of need.
We are thankful to the Deputy Fire Coordinators at the Suffolk County Department of Fire, Rescue, and Emergency Services – and to the fearless teams from the Brookhaven National Laboratory Fire Department, the Brookhaven Town Fire Marshal, the Coram Fire Department, the Mastic Fire Department, Mastic Emergency Medical Services, the Middle Island Fire Department, the Miller Place Fire Department, the Mount Sinai Fire Department, the Port Jefferson Fire Department, the Ridge Fire Department, the Riverhead Fire Department, the Rocky Point Fire Department, Shirley Emergency Medical Services, the Sound Beach Fire Department, the Stony Brook Fire Department, the Terryville Fire Department, the Wading River Fire Department, and the Yaphank Fire Department. Their relentless efforts to protect our community are a beacon of hope and strength.
We are grateful for their commitment to our safety and well-being, especially under challenging and dangerous circumstances. In such moments, the true spirit of community shines brightest, embodied by selfless service and dedication.
As we reflect on our blessings this Thanksgiving, our thoughts are with the many heroes who stand as our community’s guardians, ready to respond at a moment’s notice. We wish them and their loved ones a Thanksgiving filled with peace, joy, and a grateful spirit – and we applaud them for their service to our community.”