George and Rebecca Latimer were born into slavery in Norfolk, Va.
They fled to Chelsea, Mass. in 1842 to be free. Quincy Lewis Howard Latimer was born there on Sept. 4, 1848. At 17, he dropped the first name Quincy and joined the Union navy as Lewis Latimer, serving on the USS Ohio and USS Massasoit. He became a draftsman for Alexander Graham Bell and later advanced himself to becoming an inventor, holding many patents working for Thomas Edison and later General Electric.
Latimer wrote “Incandescent Electric Lighting,” the first book on the subject.
He married Mary Wilson Lewis in 1873, and they had two daughters, Emma Jeanette (1883-1978) and Louise Rebecca (1890-1963). They lived at 184 Adelphi St. in Brooklyn until 1903, when they decided to buy a house and move out to the suburbs at 64 Holly Ave. in Flushing (later renumbered 137-53 Holly Ave.). He passed away at home of a cerebral hemorrhage on Dec. 11, 1928 at the age of 80. His wife had died in 1924.
By the late 1980s the land where the house stood had become so valuable his granddaughter Wilifred Norman keeping his memory alive helped get a movement going to move the house into a park at 34-41 137 St., where his achievements could be preserved for future generations. Today Latimer’s house, now a museum, and his legacy are both alive and well.