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Tesla museum receives $400,000 grant

The historical wireless radio broadcasting tower erected by

The historical wireless radio broadcasting tower erected by Nikola Tesla at his Wardenclyffe facility in 1902 is pictured. Credit: Handout

The nascent Shoreham museum and science center dedicated to Nikola Tesla and located at the late scientist's former lab has received a $400,000 state grant administered through the Town of Brookhaven, town officials said.

The town board unanimously voted on Tuesday to transfer a $400,000 matching grant to the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe, a nonprofit group that last week concluded a decades-long effort to buy the scientist's former facility, which was known as Wardenclyffe.

The state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation awarded the grant to the town in 2010, for the purchase and preservation of Wardenclyffe. The nonprofit -- also known as Friends of Science East -- raised enough to buy the $850,000 laboratory complex, which sits on 16 acres tucked off Route 25A.

"I think this is a great thing for Brookhaven. People don't know the incredible accomplishments of Nikola Tesla," Town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine said. "Tesla doesn't get the credit he deserves."

Tesla's friend, renowned architect Stanford White, built the complex in 1903. Despite having invented several technologies that played major roles in modern radio and electricity, Tesla was overshadowed by other scientists and died destitute in 1943.

After nearly two decades of trying to raise money to preserve the lab, the nonprofit last week closed on the deed for the lab buildings from the multinational Belgian company Agfa, which had been using it as a photo processing plant.

The nonprofit received a boost last summer from Matthew Inman of Seattle, a popular Internet cartoonist and Tesla fan. Inman called international attention to the group's efforts, and within days, the group received online donations of more than $1.3 million.

"Almost 100 years after Nikola Tesla lost his claim to Wardenclyffe, we have been able to reclaim it in his name," president Jane Alcorn said in the release. She personally thanked Inman "and people throughout the world who contributed to make this possible, and to the local residents who have always supported our goal. With their continued support, we look forward to creating a museum and science center worthy of Tesla and his legacy."