Skip to main content

Around Queens: Lewis Latimer House Museum

Around Queens

The Lewis Latimer House Museum is a Landmarked home, Queen Anne-style, wood-frame suburban residence constructed between 1887 and 1889 by the Sexton family. Lewis Howard Latimer lived in the house from 1903 until his death in 1928. The house remained in the Latimer family until 1963. Threatened with demolition, the house was moved from Holly Avenue to its present location in 1988. Today, the Museum is a fully functional public, cultural institution that provides primary research materials dedicated to Latimer’s legacy and that of other innovators of color.  The Lewis Latimer House is owned by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, operated by the Lewis H. Latimer Fund, Inc., and is a member of the Historic House Trust. Lewis Howard Latimer Lewis Howard Latimer (1848-1928) was an African-American inventor, electrical pioneer, and a son of two formerly enslaved Virginians who self-liberated. With no access to formal education, Latimer taught himself mechanical drawing while in the Union Navy, and eventually became a chief draftsman, patent expert, and inventor. Latimer worked with three of the most celebrated scientific inventors in American history, Alexander Graham Bell, Hiram S. Maxim, and Thomas Alva Edison. He played a critical role in the development of the telephone, significantly improved the production of carbon filament, and made important contributions to the commercialization of the incandescent light bulb. Outside his professional career, Latimer developed a passion for visual art, creative writing, and music. Some products of his artistic endeavors can be viewed at the Lewis Latimer House Museum. Latimer was a Unitarian and a family man.