Mr Edison’s Amazing Electric “Lamp”

The wonders of science were becoming practical realities and Americans everywhere were trying Mr Edison’s amazing electric lamp.

With the widespread use of tungsten and drawn-tungsten filaments, mass production of “electric lamps” became increasingly practical. The cost of a “lamp” fell steadily from $1.75 to 36c. And the age of electricity began in earnest.

Demand for the lamps was heavy. In 1908 Samuel Austin and Son began constructing new production facilities for a variety of electric lamp manufacturers. Two years later they designed and constructed similar projects in a host of cities – from Providence, Rhode Island to Oakland California. All for the National Electric Lamp Association soon to become part of General Electric.

With this wide-ranging experience Austin was the natural choice to build the Lamp Association’s extensive research facilities and automatic production plant – both in Cleveland, Ohio. The Nela Park research buildings anticipated the campus layout common to most modern research centres. And the entire project helped Cleveland boast itself “The Electrical Innovator of the Nation” and the world’s largest producer of electric lamps.

The company responsible for these massive facilities, Samuel Austin and Son had started work as a local builder. It had expanded by developing The Austin Method: single-source responsibility for design and construction. Now, suddenly, the company found itself thrust into national prominence.

In recognition of the change, Samuel Austin and Son became simply The Austin Company.

Since those earliest years of electric lighting, Austin has remained an industry leader. In the late 1930’s Austin pioneered the installation of fluorescent lighting in industrial buildings. In 1951, the company served as architect/engineer on the first nuclear facility to produce manageable electric current. Experimental Breeder Reactor 1, now a historic landmark, harnessed atomic power to light four “electric lamps”.


  • architecture
  • mechanical
  • electrical
  • structural
  • public health
  • construction
  • management