DC -- Georgetown -- Volta Laboratory and Bureau (3414 Volta Pl NW):
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- VOLTA_200516_06.JPG: Alexander Graham Bell
Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
- VOLTA_200516_09.JPG: Volta Bureau
has been designated a Registered National Historic Landmark
Under the provisions of the Historic Sites Act of August 21, 1935 this site possesses exceptional value in commemorating or illustrating the history of the United States.
U.S. Department of the Interior
National Park Service
- VOLTA_200516_11.JPG: Volta Bureau
- Wikipedia Description: Volta Laboratory and Bureau
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Volta Laboratory (also known as the "Alexander Graham Bell Laboratory", the "Bell Carriage House" and the "Bell Laboratory") and the Volta Bureau were created in Georgetown, Washington, D.C. by Alexander Graham Bell.
The Volta Laboratory was founded in 1880–1881 with Charles Sumner Tainter and Bell's cousin, Chichester Bell, for the research and development of telecommunication, phonograph and other technologies.
Using funds generated by the Volta Laboratory, Bell later founded the Volta Bureau in 1887 "for the increase and diffusion of knowledge relating to the deaf", and merged with the American Association for the Promotion and Teaching of Speech to the Deaf (AAPTSD) in 1908. It was renamed as the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf in 1956 and then the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in 1999.
The current building, a U.S. National Historic Landmark, was constructed in 1893 under the direction of Alexander Graham Bell to serve as a center of information for deaf and hard of hearing persons. Bell, best known for receiving the first telephone patent in 1876, was also a prominent figure of his generation in the education of the deaf. His grandfather, father and elder brother were teachers of speech and the younger Bell worked with them.
Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, Bell moved to Canada with his family in 1870 following the deaths of his brothers, and a year later moved to Boston to teach at a special day school for deaf children. Both Bell's mother and wife were deaf, profoundly influencing his life's work. He became a renowned educator by opening a private normal class to train teachers of speech to the deaf and as a professor of vocal physiology and the mechanics of speech at Boston University. During this time he also invented an improved phonautograph, the multiple telegraph, the speaking telegraph, or telephone, and numerous other devices.
In 1879, Bell and his wife Mabel Hubbard, who had been deaf from early childhood, moved to Washington, D.C. The following year, the French government awarded Bell the Volta Prize of 50,000 francs (approximately US$260,000 in current dollars) for the invention of the telephone. Bell used the money to establish a trust fund, the Volta Fund, and founded the Volta Laboratory Association, along with his cousin Chichester A. Bell and Sumner Tainter. The laboratory focused on research for the analysis, recording and transmission of sound. In 1887, the Volta Laboratory Association transferred the sound recording and phonograph invention patents they had been granted to the American Graphophone Company (later to evolve into Columbia Records). Alexander Bell, bent on improving the lives of the deaf, took a portion of his share of the profits to found the Volta Bureau as an instrument "for the increase and diffusion of knowledge relating to the deaf".
The Volta Bureau worked in close cooperation with the American Association for the Promotion of the Teaching of Speech to the Deaf (the AAPTSD) which was organized in 1890, electing Bell as President. The Volta Bureau officially merged with the Association in 1908, and has been known as the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf since 1956, and then as the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing since 1999. Informally it is also called the 'AG Bell'.
Transition from the Volta Laboratory to the Volta Bureau
From about 1879 Bell's earliest physics research in Washington. D.C. was conducted at his first laboratory, a rented house, at 1325 L Street NW, and then from the autumn of 1880 at 1221 Connecticut Avenue NW. The laboratory was later relocated to 2020 F Street NW sometime after January 1886. With most of the laboratory's project work being conducted by his two associates, Bell was able to engage in extensive research into the causes of deafness as well as ways of improving the lives of the deaf, leading him to create the Volta Bureau in 1887. In 1889, Bell and his family moved from their Brodhead-Bell mansion to a new home close to his father, Alexander Melville Bell. Between 1889 and 1893, the Volta Bureau was located in the carriage house to the rear of the home of Bell's father, at 1527 35th Street NW in Washington, D.C. The work of the Bureau increased to such an extent that in 1893 Bell, with the assistance of his father, constructed a neoclassical yellow brick and sandstone building specifically to house the institution.
The new bureau building was constructed across the street from his father's home, where its carriage house had been its original headquarters. On May 8, 1893, Bell’s 13-year-old prodigy, Helen Keller, performed the sod-breaking ceremony for the construction of the new Volta Bureau building.
The 'Volta Bureau' was so named in 1887 at the suggestion of John Hitz, its first superintendent, and Bell's prior researcher. Hitz remained its first superintendent until his death in 1908. Bell's former trust, the Volta Fund, was also renamed the Volta Bureau Fund when the Bureau was established, except for US$25,000 that Bell diverted to the AAPTSD, one of several organizations for the deaf that Bell ultimately donated some $450,000 (approximately $12,000,000 in current dollars) to starting in the 1880s.
The building, a neoclassical Corinthian templum in antis structure of closely matching golden yellow sandstone and Roman brick with architectural terracotta details, was built in 1893 to a design by Peabody and Stearns of Boston. Its design is unique in the Georgetown area of Washington, due to its Academic Revival style. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1972.
While the Volta Bureau's assigned mission was to conduct research into deafness as well as its related pedagogical strategies, Bell would continue with his other scientific, engineering and inventive works for the remainder of his life, conducted mainly at the newer and larger laboratory he built on his Nova Scotia estate, Beinn Breagh. Although Bell self-described his occupation as a "teacher of the deaf" throughout his life, his foremost activities revolved around those of general scientific discovery and invention.
By 1887 the Volta Laboratory Association's assets had been distributed among its partners and its collective works had ceased. In 1895 Bell's father, noted philologist and elocutionist Alexander Melville Bell, who had authored over 45 publications on elocution, the use of visible speech for the deaf and similar related subjects, assigned all his publication copyrights to the Volta Bureau for its financial benefit. The Volta Bureau later evolved into the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (also known as the AG Bell), and its works have actively continued to the present day under its own charter.
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