From 1850 until 1889, the building that is now the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum was home to Antonio Meucci, the true inventor of the telephone. It was in this building that he invented metal molds for candles, a loudspeaker for a public address system, a process for turning wood pulp into paper, an effervescent fruit drink, and an instrument to measure the safety of milk, among numerous other things. In this building, Meucci developed his “speaking telegraph,” and installed the first telephone line so he could speak with his invalid wife, who was bedridden on the second floor, from his laboratory in the basement and his backyard candle-making vat.

It is also the home where he hosted Giuseppe Garibaldi, the beloved liberator of Italy and the “Hero of Two Worlds,” for a short time in the early 1850s. The men became life-long friends, and after Garibaldi’s death in Italy in 1883 the Italian-American community placed a plaque over the door, commemorating Garibaldi’s stay in the house. In 1907, to celebrate the centennial of Garibaldi’s birth, the house was moved to its present location and the “Garibaldi Memorial,” a large pantheon, was constructed over the building. The pantheon was later removed from the building. Today, the house, which is owned and operated by the Order Sons of Italy, is considered a little piece of Italy in America and Italians continue to make the pilgrimage to see the place where Garibaldi slept. The Garibaldi-Meucci Museum is also a prominent center of Italian culture and heritage. Each year the museum hosts thousands of visitors from around the corner and around the world. In addition to giving tours of the National Landmark building and its permanent exhibits, the museum offers Italian language classes, school programs for grades K-12, lectures, and historical and art exhibitions All programs are aimed at promoting a positive image of Italian culture and heritage.

The restoration work on the exterior of the building includes replacement of windows and rotted clapboards, removal and disposal of the lead paint, and repainting the entire exterior of the building. As a landmark building, all work to restore the home to its original historic appearance must conform to high standards set by the Landmarks Commission. The museum has selected Buday and Schuster Architects, LLC (Staten Island, NY) as architect for the project. Troost Bros. Home Improvements of Staten Island, NY is the contractor on the project and Pella Windows and Doors, also of Staten Island, is supplying the windows. The work began in March 2009, and completion is planned for June 2009.

Activities related to the restoration include an exhibition, “If These Walls Could Talk!” with photos and documents on the history of the house, which will open with a wine and cheese celebration on Saturday, May 9, 2009. A rededication ceremony is planned for July 22, 2009.

For information on how you can contribute, please call 718-442-1608 or visit our website at www.garibaldimeuccimuseum.org. The Garibaldi-Meucci Museum is a 501(C)3 organization, and all donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

Regular museum hours are 1 p.m.-5 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. Admission is $5 per person and children under 10 are free.  Call ahead for groups of 10 or more. The first floor of the museum is wheelchair accessible. At press time, program funding has been provided through the Order Sons of Italy in America; The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; The Staten Island Foundation; and by grants allocated by New York State Senators Diane Savino, Serphin Maltese, Carl Marcellino and Caesar Trunzo; New York City Council members Vincent Ignizio, James Oddo and Congressman Michael McMahon; and New York State Assembly members Michael Cusick, Janele Hyer-Spencer and Matthew Titone.