09/24/13 10:50am
09/24/2013 10:50 AM
COURTESY PHOTO | Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić speaks on Monday at Wardenclyffe.

COURTESY PHOTO | Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić speaks on Monday at Wardenclyffe.

After purchasing the site of Nikola Tesla’s final laboratory in May following a viral online fundraiser, a Shoreham nonprofit welcomed the President of Serbia to unveil a statue dedicated to the Serbian scientist on Monday.

President Tomislav Nikolić – in the country as the United Nations General Assembly met on Monday – offered the statue as a gift from his country. The bronze sculpture which stands on a granite base, crafted by Serbian artist Nikola Jankovic, faces Route 25A at the lab’s site in Shoreham, known as Wardenclyffe, depicting Tesla looking down at his hands.

Jane Alcorn, president of the nonprofit which owns the land, said on Tuesday that the event was “astounding,” drawing close to 300 people including local – and with Nikolic on site, international – politicians alike. Music was played during the ceremony by members of Shoreham-Wading River High School, a Serbian violinist, as well.

“They are very proud of their most famous son,” Alcorn said.

Leading up to the May purchase of Wardenclyffe, web comic Matt Inman, who was also present at Monday’s ceremony, spearheaded a campaign to help the nonprofit raise the funds necessary to purchase the 15.6-acre site. Nearly $1.4 million was raised, and in May, Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe bought the land for $850,000, nearly half of the original asking price.

Alcorn said today that moving forward, the nonprofit is working on rehabbing the buildings and long-term, they hope to partner with Stony Brook University to offer science courses on site. The organization has said in the past that in order to achieve its long-term goals, as much as $10 million could need to be raised.

jpinciaro@timesreview.com

Watch a video of Monday’s event, courtesy of RememberTesla.com, below

Video streaming by Ustream

05/15/13 8:00am
05/15/2013 8:00 AM
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO

The new owners of famous inventor Nikola Tesla’s Long Island laboratory opened its gates Monday afternoon to share the history of the site and let outsiders on the property for the first time in years.

The Wardenclyffe property off Route 25A in Shoreham was sold last Thursday for $850,000 to the nonprofit Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe, who hope to turn the property into a museum and science center to honor Mr. Tesla’s legacy.

The purchase was paid for by a state reimbursement grant and almost $1.4 million in online contributions from more than 33,000 contributors from 108 countries.

Mr. Tesla, a rival of Thomas Edison and a pioneer in the use of alternating current, conducted experiments at the Wardenclyffe laboratory, built in 1901, in hopes of providing free, wireless electricity to the world.

The tower designed to provide the electrical energy was torn down in 1917 and, after Mr. Tesla’s death, the property was later leased to a photography company, which dumped waste on the land.

Today the property shows the age and neglect. Graffiti marks up the walls and there are signs of squatters who lived in the vacant buildings.

Nonprofit officials said they have obtained permission to see the original blueprints for Mr. Tesla’s lab, and plan to use the designs to restore the property. The project is expected to cost $10 million in total.

psquire@timesreview.com

05/08/13 4:30pm
05/08/2013 4:30 PM
COURTSEY PHOTO | The Wardenclyffe laboratory in Shoreham was built in 1901 by renowned architect Stanford White.

COURTSEY PHOTO | The Wardenclyffe laboratory in Shoreham was built in 1901 by renowned architect Stanford White.

Seven months after an online fundraiser raised $1.4 million to save the last remaining laboratory of famed inventor Nikola Tesla, the nonprofit group that organized the drive has purchased the property to build a museum and science center.

The sale of the Wardenclyffe property, off Route 25A in Shoreham, marks the end of a nearly 20-year effort by the group, Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe, to prevent the property from falling into the hands of owners who would demolish the lab.

“I think we can all say despite the ups and downs it was well worth it because here we are,” said group president Jane Alcorn. “Almost 100 years ago, Tesla lost this property to foreclosure. We have just reached the point where we can say we’ve purchased it in his name.”

Last year, more than 33,000 contributors from 108 countries contributed to the fund, called “Let’s Build a Goddamn Tesla Museum.” The online fundraiser was featured by the creator of the popular webcomic The Oatmeal, Matthew Inman, who encouraged his fans to donate.

Mr. Tesla, a rival of Thomas Edison and a pioneer in the use of alternating current, conducted experiments at the Wardenclyffe laboratory, built in 1901, in hopes of providing free, wireless electricity to the world.

The tower designed to provide the electrical energy was torn down in 1917 and, after Mr. Tesla’s death, the property was later leased to a photography company, which dumped waste on the land. Wardenclyffe was later purchased by an imaging company, which sold the 16-acre property for $850,000 last Thursday, Ms. Alcorn said.

A reimbursement grant from New York State will cover the full cost of the purchase, allowing the remaining funds to go toward clearing the property and beginning construction of the science center and museum, Ms. Alcorn said.

The group announced the purchase at a press conference at the New Yorker Hotel last Thursday, as the audience gave a standing ovation and cheered.

Among the biggest contributors to the cause was Joseph Sikorski, a local filmmaker who plans to produce a film about Tesla’s work called “Fragments from Olympus.”

Mr. Sikorski and his film crew donated $33,333, all the production’s seed money, during the online fundraiser. He is now working on a documentary about the efforts to save Wardenclyffe, called “Tower to the People.”

Mr. Sikorski thanked those gathered at the press conference for their support, praised Mr. Inman for making the comic that raised awareness of fundraiser and jokingly kissed the larger-than-life cardboard cutout of Mr. Tesla on the shoulder.

“It’s a very happy day today, but it’s very important to understand it’s just a beginning,” he said. “Wardenclyffe really needs a lot of restoration, a lot of TLC.”

Over the next few months, the group will clean up the site and preserve Tesla’s existing lab, Ms. Alcorn said, adding that they will need the continued support of Tesla admirers to build the science center.

The group has allowed the Suffolk County Police K-9 unit to train their dogs on the property, which Ms. Alcorn said gives the site much-need security. The group plans to determine which structures, in addition, to the lab can be rehabilitated and which must be torn down.

After the site is cleared, the nonprofit will organize volunteers to help rake the property and mulch flower beds.

Ms. Alcorn expects the full project will cost about $10 million, and she is hopeful that businesses will step forward to donate.

“We have an enormous task ahead of us,” she said.

psquire@timesreview.com

10/02/12 8:00am
10/02/2012 8:00 AM

COURTSEY PHOTO | The Wardenclyffe laboratory in Shoreham was built in 1901 by renowned architect Stanford White.

An online fundraising drive to help secure money for a nonprofit group to purchase the property around a former Tesla laboratory in Shoreham netted more than $1.37 million for the cause in just over a month, organizers announced this week.

The campaign, organized by nonprofit group Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe and creator of The Oatmeal webcomic Matthew Inman, raised the money to turn famed inventor and scientist Nikola Tesla’s lab into a science center and museum.

“We are so delighted and it’s so encouraging to know that people from all over the world, from over 108 countries, felt strongly enough to participate in this cause,” said Jane Alcorn, group president.

Mr. Tesla, a rival of Thomas Edison and a pioneer in the use of alternating current, conducted experiments at the Wardenclyffe laboratory off Route 25A, built in 1901 in the hopes of providing free, wireless electrical energy to the world.

After Mr. Tesla’s death, the property was leased to a photography company, which dumped waste on the land. Wardenclyffe was later purchased by an imaging company that is now trying to sell the property.

The fundraiser was started after the group heard rumors that a potential buyer might purchase the land first and demolish the existing laboratory building to make way for retail shops. In the first six days of the campaign, the group raised nearly $1 million, enough to trigger an $850,000 reimbursement grant from New York State to help purchase the land.

The non-profit will now meet with a team of lawyers working pro-bono to iron out the purchase of the land, Ms. Alcorn said, adding that the process will take several months.

“It’s not like buying a house, there’s much more involved,” she said.

Though the other potential buyer may still be interested, Ms. Alcorn says she is confident the nonprofit will be able to close the deal.

“It’s not a secret that we want this property, it’s also not a secret that we raised the money to do it,” she said. “I’m a very tenacious person. I was always very confident that we would get to this point.”

Ms. Alcorn said her group’s board members – Chris Wesselborg, Gene Genova, Mary Daum, Michael Russo, Margaret Foster, Richard Gearns and David Madigan – will also look over environmental issues at the site and meet with volunteer engineers to check the building for any structural damage.

Ms. Alcorn thanked the donors to the project, including the team behind the independent film Fragments from Olympus, which helped support the cause.

The group will update its website and Twitter feeds with more information as it becomes available, Ms. Alcorn said, to allow supporters to remain a part of the process.

“We want to be as open as we can about all of the progress that we make,” she said.

psquire@timesreview.com

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly listed Oatmeal creator Mr. Inman’s first name as Michael. His first name is Matthew.