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Latimer House in Flushing now under historic trust

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The Lewis Latimer House in Flushing has officially joined the Historic Housing Trust, the city Parks Department announced last week.

The move transfers the landmarked home, at 34-31 137th St., from the control of the city Cultural Affairs Department to the Parks Department, a move which could open up more funding possibilities for the historic home of inventor Lewis Latimer.

As an official member of the trust, Parks will now collaborate on the house's conservation, interpretation, promotion and property along with the current operator, the Lewis H. Latimer Fund Inc.

The petite Queen Anne-style home was constructed in the late 1880s and home to Latimer from 1903 until his death in 1928. The house remained in the Latimer family until the 1960s and was threatened with demolition in the 1980s until receiving its landmark status and being moved from its original home on Holly Avenue.

Latimer was a black inventor and an electrical pioneer who collaborated closely with men like Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell. He is most famous for his work on the incandescent light bulb, which he improved when he invented and patented the carbon filament — an innovation that vastly improved the bulb's lifespan.

Today the Latimer House serves as a museum celebrating the life of the inventor. Under the supervision of its new director, Vivian Millicent Warfield, and through its new collaboration with the Historic Housing Trust, the museum hopes to expand its hours and programing.

Beginning Sept. 2, the museum will extend its hours to Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for tours of the house and its garden.

During the fall, the Latimer House plans to start an after-school program and host a series of special events in honor of the inventor's 160th birthday, each targeted at highlighting the importance of Latimer's and other blacks' contributions to science and technology and city history.

Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at Sstirling@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, ext. 138.

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