A Brief History of Tesla Science Center

Tesla Laboratory at Wardenclyffe

Building of Tesla’s former laboratory at Wardenclyffe, now Shoreham, NY

Friends of Science East, Inc. was born on February 14, 1996, when the official New York State approvals were filed making Friends of Science East, Inc. a not-for-profit corporation in the state. Federal tax exempt status was also obtained as of this date. The genesis of this event occurred approximately one year earlier.

The Science Museum located in the Shoreham-Wading River High School was experiencing growth pains—not enough space to incorporate all of the activities, programs and exhibits that were becoming increasingly popular. A review of the museum indicated that it was in the museum’s and its visitors’ interests to expand in a moderate fashion. Since the school district did not have any additional space to lend, members of the museum board began to consider finding a larger space outside the school campus.

For several years, Science Museum board members had been interested in the land known as the “Peerless Property,” after its former owners, Peerless Photo Products, which had been bought by Agfa, then a division of the Bayer Corporation.

At the turn of the century, the property had been owned by inventor and scientist Nikola Tesla. Tesla had built a laboratory there in 1901 called Wardenclyffe, designed by the renowned architect, Stanford White. He also had White design a huge tower to be used for the transmission of signals world wide. The tower was demolished in 1917, but the original laboratory building still stands, along with several other structures which were added by subsequent owners. This property seemed an interesting, if not ideal, site for a future science museum.

The Science Museum board decided to create an offshoot organization to pursue the acquisition of the Tesla property, and the Friends of Science East, Inc. came into being.

Since that beginning, FSE, Inc. has had numerous meetings with representatives from Agfa, Brookhaven Town, Suffolk County, New York State, Shoreham Village and various fraternal, civic and business organizations locally; has begun legal affiliation with the Tesla Wardenclyffe Project, Inc., a group dedicated to the preservation of Wardenclyffe, and has set in motion the actions which it is hoped will result in the Tesla property becoming the future home of the Tesla Science Center and Museum at Wardenclyffe.

In the fall of 2008, New York State approved the application by FSE for doing business as (“DBA”) the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe, or TSC for short. The name change reflects the consistent focus of this organization, to establish a science and technology center and museum at the site of Nikola Tesla’s former Wardenclyffe laboratory.

In August 2012, in collaboration with internet cartoonist Matt Inman (The Oatmeal.com) TSC launched an internet fundraising campaign that ultimately raised $1.37 million and eventually, in May 2013, succeeded in purchasing the property, including Wardenclyffe and the original tower base. Over the following several months, the group organized more than a hundred volunteers who systematically cleaned up the grounds outside of the buildings as the first phase of the huge restoration effort.