Thus, broadly, the manufacturing end of the problem of introduction was cared for. In the early part of 1881 the Edison Electric Light Company leased the old Bishop mansion at 65 Fifth Avenue, close to Fourteenth Street, for its headquarters and show- rooms. This was one of the finest homes in the city of that period, and its acquisition was a premonitory sign of the surrender of the famous residential avenue to commerce. The company needed not only offices, but, even more, such an interior as would display to advantage the new light in everyday use; and this house with its liberal lines, spacious halls, lofty ceilings, wide parlors, and graceful, winding stairway was ideal for the purpose. In fact, in undergoing this violent change, it did not cease to be a home in the real sense, for to this day many an Edison veteran's pulse is quickened by some chance reference to "65," where through many years the work of development by a loyal and devoted band of workers was centred. Here Edison and a few of his assistants from Menlo Park installed immediately in the basement a small generating plant, at first with a gas-engine which was not successful, and then with a Hampson high-speed engine and boiler, constituting a complete isolated plant. The building was wired from top to bottom, and equipped with all the appliances of the art. The experience with the little gas-engine was rather startling. "At an early period at `65' we decided," says Edison, "to light it up with the Edison system, and put a gas- engine in the cellar, using city gas. One day it was not going very well, and I went down to the man in charge and got exploring around. Finally I opened the pedestal--a storehouse for tools, etc. We had an open lamp, and when we opened the pedestal, it blew the doors off, and blew out the windows, and knocked me down, and the other man."
For the next four or five years "65" was a veritable beehive, day and night. The routine was very much the same as that at the laboratory, in its utter neglect of the clock. The evenings were not only devoted to the continuance of regular business, but the house was thrown open to the public until late at night, never closing before ten o'clock, so as to give everybody who wished an opportunity to see that great novelty of the time--the incandescent light--whose fame had meanwhile been spreading all over the globe. The first year, 1881, was naturally that which witnessed the greatest rush of visitors; and the building hardly ever closed its doors till midnight. During the day business was carried on under great stress, and Mr. Insull has described how Edison was to be found there trying to lead the life of a man of affairs in the conventional garb of polite society, instead of pursuing inventions and researches in his laboratory. But the disagreeable ordeal could not be dodged. After the experience Edison could never again be tempted to quit his laboratory and work for any length of time; but in this instance there were some advantages attached to the sacrifice, for the crowds of lion-hunters and people seeking business arrangements would only have gone out to Menlo Park; while, on the other hand, the great plans for lighting New York demanded very close personal attention on the spot.
As it was, not only Edison, but all the company's directors, officers, and employees, were kept busy exhibiting and explaining the light. To the public of that day, when the highest known form of house illuminant was gas, the incandescent lamp, with its ability to burn in any position, its lack of heat so that you could put your hand on the brilliant glass globe; the absence of any vitiating effect on the atmosphere, the obvious safety from fire; the curious fact that you needed no matches to light it, and that it was under absolute control from a distance-- these and many other features came as a distinct revelation and marvel, while promising so much additional comfort, convenience, and beauty in the home, that inspection was almost invariably followed by a request for installation.
The camaraderie that existed at this time was very democratic, for all were workers in a common cause; all were enthusiastic believers in the doctrine they proclaimed, and hoped to profit by the opening up of the new art. Often at night, in the small hours, all would adjourn for refreshments to a famous resort nearby, to discuss the events of to-day and to- morrow, full of incident and excitement. The easy relationship of the time is neatly sketched by Edison in a humorous complaint as to his inability to keep his own cigars: "When at `65' I used to have in my desk a box of cigars. I would go to the box four or five times to get a cigar, but after it got circulated about the building, everybody would come to get my cigars, so that the box would only last about a day and a half. I was telling a gentleman one day that I could not keep a cigar. Even if I locked them up in my desk they would break it open. He suggested to me that he had a friend over on Eighth Avenue who made a superior grade of cigars, and who would show them a trick. He said he would have some of them made up with hair and old paper, and I could put them in without a word and see the result. I thought no more about the matter. He came in two or three months after, and said: `How did that cigar business work?' I didn't remember anything about it. On coming to investigate, it appeared that the box of cigars had been delivered and had been put in my desk, and I had smoked them all! I was too busy on other things to notice."
It was no uncommon sight to see in the parlors in the evening John Pierpont Morgan, Norvin Green, Grosvenor P. Lowrey, Henry Villard, Robert L. Cutting, Edward D. Adams, J. Hood Wright, E. G. Fabbri, R. M. Galloway, and other men prominent in city life, many of them stock-holders and directors; all interested in doing this educational work. Thousands of persons thus came--bankers, brokers, lawyers, editors, and reporters, prominent business men, electricians, insurance experts, under whose searching and intelligent inquiries the facts were elicited, and general admiration was soon won for the system, which in advance had solved so many new problems. Edison himself was in universal request and the subject of much adulation, but altogether too busy and modest to be spoiled by it. Once in a while he felt it his duty to go over the ground with scientific visitors, many of whom were from abroad, and discuss questions which were not simply those of technique, but related to newer phenomena, such as the action of carbon, the nature and effects of high vacua; the principles of electrical subdivision; the value of insulation, and many others which, unfortu- nate to say, remain as esoteric now as they were then, ever fruitful themes of controversy.
Speaking of those days or nights, Edison says: "Years ago one of the great violinists was Remenyi. After his performances were over he used to come down to `65' and talk economics, philosophy, moral science, and everything else. He was highly educated and had great mental capacity. He would talk with me, but I never asked him to bring his violin. One night he came with his violin, about twelve o'clock. I had a library at the top of the house, and Remenyi came up there. He was in a genial humor, and played the violin for me for about two hours--$2000 worth. The front doors were closed, and he walked up and down the room as he played. After that, every time he came to New York he used to call at `65' late at night with his violin. If we were not there, he could come down to the slums at Goerck Street, and would play for an hour or two and talk philosophy. I would talk for the benefit of his music. Henry E. Dixey, then at the height of his `Adonis' popularity, would come in in those days, after theatre hours, and would entertain us with stories--1882-84. Another visitor who used to give us a good deal of amusement and pleasure was Captain Shaw, the head of the London Fire Brigade. He was good company. He would go out among the fire-laddies and have a great time. One time Robert Lincoln and Anson Stager, of the Western Union, interested in the electric light, came on to make some arrangement with Major Eaton, President of the Edison Electric Light Company. They came to `65' in the afternoon, and Lincoln com- menced telling stories--like his father. They told stories all the afternoon, and that night they left for Chicago. When they got to Cleveland, it dawned upon them that they had not done any business, so they had to come back on the next train to New York to transact it. They were interested in the Chicago Edison Company, now one of the largest of the systems in the world. Speaking of telling stories, I once got telling a man stories at the Harrison lamp factory, in the yard, as he was leaving. It was winter, and he was all in furs. I had nothing on to protect me against the cold. I told him one story after the other--six of them. Then I got pleurisy, and had to be shipped to Florida for cure."
The organization of the Edison Electric Light Company went back to 1878; but up to the time of leasing 65 Fifth Avenue it had not been engaged in actual business. It had merely enjoyed the delights of anxious anticipation, and the perilous pleasure of backing Edison's experiments. Now active exploitation was required. Dr. Norvin Green, the well-known President of the Western Union Telegraph Company, was president also of the Edison Company, but the pressing nature of his regular duties left him no leisure for such close responsible management as was now required. Early in 1881 Mr. Grosvenor P. Lowrey, after consultation with Mr. Edison, prevailed upon Major S. B. Eaton, the leading member of a very prominent law firm in New York, to accept the position of vice-president and general manager of the company, in which, as also in some of the subsidiary Edison companies, and as presi- dent, he continued actively and energetically for nearly four years, a critical, formative period in which the solidity of the foundation laid is attested by the magnitude and splendor of the superstructure.
The fact that Edison conferred at this point with Mr. Lowrey should, perhaps, be explained in justice to the distinguished lawyer, who for so many years was the close friend of the inventor, and the chief counsel in all the tremendous litigation that followed the effort to enforce and validate the Edison patents. As in England Mr. Edison was fortunate in securing the legal assistance of Sir Richard Webster, afterward Lord Chief Justice of England, so in America it counted greatly in his favor to enjoy the advocacy of such a man as Lowrey, prominent among the famous leaders of the New York bar. Born in Massachusetts, Mr. Lowrey, in his earlier days of straitened circumstances, was accustomed to defray some portion of his educational expenses by teaching music in the Berkshire villages, and by a curious coincidence one of his pupils was F. L. Pope, later Edison's partner for a time. Lowrey went West to "Bleeding Kansas" with the first Governor, Reeder, and both were active participants in the exciting scenes of the "Free State" war until driven away in 1856, like many other free-soilers, by the acts of the "Border Ruffian" legislature. Returning East, Mr. Lowrey took up practice in New York, soon becoming eminent in his profession, and upon the accession of William Orton to the presidency of the Western Union Telegraph Company in 1866, he was appointed its general counsel, the duties of which post he discharged for fifteen years. One of the great cases in which he thus took a leading and distinguished part was that of the quadruplex telegraph; and later he acted as legal adviser to Henry Villard in his numerous grandiose enterprises. Lowrey thus came to know Edison, to conceive an intense admiration for him, and to believe in his ability at a time when others could not detect the fire of genius smouldering beneath the modest exterior of a gaunt young operator slowly "finding himself." It will be seen that Mr Lowrey was in a peculiarly advantageous position to make his convictions about Edison felt, so that it was he and his friends who rallied quickly to the new banner of discovery, and lent to the inventor the aid that came at a critical period. In this connection it may be well to quote an article that appeared at the time of Mr. Lowrey's death, in 1893: "One of the most important services which Mr. Lowrey has ever performed was in furnishing and procuring the necessary financial backing for Thomas A. Edison in bringing out and perfecting his system of incandescent lighting. With characteristic pertinacity, Mr. Lowrey stood by the inventor through thick and thin, in spite of doubt, discouragement, and ridicule, until at last success crowned his efforts. In all the litigation which has resulted from the wide-spread infringements of the Edison patents, Mr. Lowrey has ever borne the burden and heat of the day, and perhaps in no other field has he so personally distinguished himself as in the successful advocacy of the claims of Edison to the invention of the incandescent lamp and everything "hereunto pertaining."