Published in the Courier News on July 27, 2000
Article is courtesy of Mr. Anthony Marano of The New Jersey Broadcasters Association. This was published the day the New Brunswick Hotel was demolished.
The vision is a science and history museum for children. The reality July 22 was three grimy guys removing roof tiles from the onetime Marconi wireless station on Easton Avenue in the Somerset Section of Franklin to restore its counterpart in Wall Township.
The terra-cotta-tiles and some salvaged American chestnut woodwork from the transmission station will be used to finish off the reception station in Wall Townships as it is converted to The Information Age Learning Center.
While volunteers are doing the salvage work before the local site is demolished for a storage unit complex, the Wall facility has received historic designation that will protect its legacy.
The legacy includes New Jersey’s role in 1913 as the home to the world’s most powerful wireless transmission station.
“President Woodrow Wilson used it to help negotiate the Armistice,” volunteer Fred Carl said.
In the following decades the site was a hotbed of secret advances in technology, including development of the transistor.
Carl directs InfoAge, the nonprofit agency that is spearheading the campaign for the museum at the Wall Township site, now called Camp Evans.
Guglielmo Marconi, the “father of radio,” built the Franklin station, but its six 400-foot towers that achieved the first wireless contact with England were knocked down in 1952. That site now holds a shopping mall.
On the property north of the former tower site, Carl, Chris Wishbow and Steve Ward were busy saving the roof tiles from the deserted buildings where science luminaries such as Albert Einstein and electrical engineer Charles P. Steinmetz once came to visit. Though the last vestiges of the transmission station will soon be gone from Franklin, Carl said the Marconi heritage is so important to Wall that the municipal logo includes two science motifs.
One is a radio tower and the other is the Project Diana radar antenna that kicked off the Space Age in 1946 by bouncing a signal off the moon.
Wishbow is a founding member of InfoAge and Ward is an AT&T employee who works with Scout groups that volunteered previously on the project.
As tiles slid down a chute from the roof and were stacked in a Wall Township municipal truck for transport to Camp Evans, Carl took a break to show photos of the site in its heyday, when its three buildings housed personnel on the cutting edge of technology.
Now that the story of their scientific advances can be told, Carl is completing plans for the museum, which is an official project of Save America’s Treasures, a public-private partnership between the White House Millennial Council and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
The museum will feature radio, radar, telephone and computer history.
Carl said his organization already has 7,000 computer items in a warehouse, including two parts of ENIAC, the first fully electronic digital computer.
Carl said he expects 500,000 visitors annually to the museum once it opens.
— By Bernice Paglia, Staff Writer
Page created September 02, 2000