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Nonprofit group buys Nikola Tesla's former Shoreham lab

That "For Sale" sign on the former Shoreham laboratory of brilliant scientist Nikola Tesla is gone for good.

A group of dedicated fans of the Serbian-American scientist closed last week on the $850,000 purchase of Tesla's laboratory called Wardenclyffe, located off Route 25A.

After nearly two decades of trying to raise money to preserve the lab, the nonprofit group called the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe officially took the deed for the 16-acre cluster of lab buildings from the multinational Belgian company Agfa, said Jane Alcorn, the nonprofit's president.

"I'm grateful. We're still absorbing the reality of it, but we're delighted," Alcorn said. "We're certainly excited, and our next job is to start planning the next order of business."

Wardenclyffe was built in 1903 and designed by the famed architect Stanford White, who was a friend of Tesla. After Tesla lost funding for his research and the lab closed in 1915, its main building operated for decades as a photo-processing plant.

"Here we are almost a hundred years later, and now the property has come back into the sphere of influence of Nikola Tesla," said David Madigan, a board member of the Tesla Science Center nonprofit. "It's a satisfying feeling."

Among other innovations, Tesla invented major components used in modern radio and electricity, only to see the fame and riches for his inventions go to others. He died penniless in 1943 at the New Yorker hotel in Manhattan, where a news conference was held Thursday to announce the final sale.

Alcorn's group had struggled for years to raise enough money to preserve Wardenclyffe as a museum and research center. Last summer, the group got an unexpected boost from a popular Internet cartoonist and Tesla fan, Matthew Inman of Seattle.

Inman called international attention to Alcorn's efforts, and within days the group had received online pledges of more than $1.3 million -- more than enough to buy the property and make a start toward the renovations that will cost millions more, Madigan said.

"We have evaluations yet to do, decisions to make about what buildings to adapt," Alcorn said. "There's a long process ahead, and a lot more money to raise."

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