Wardenclyffe Laboratory is the last remaining research facility of Nikola Tesla, the famed Serb/Croat (he is claimed by both) physicist whose bold ideas about electricity led to the development of alternating current motors and radio communications. Originally built with the goal of transmitting electrical signals across the Atlantic Ocean, the laboratory also had a secret purpose unbeknownst to its primary investor J.P. Morgan.
Construction began on the brick laboratory and 187-foot transmitting tower in 1901 under the supervision of famous architect (and later, famous murder victim) Stanford White. However, with Guglielmo Marconi's success in signaling the letter "S" from England to Newfoundland in December of that year, the project lost momentum. In need of funds, Tesla was forced to disclose the laboratory's true objective: to electrify the Earth by wirelessly transferring power to the entire globe.
Like many of Tesla's scientific contemporaries, Morgan was skeptical of the project's practicality and withdrew his support in 1903. The frustrated Tesla retreated to his laboratory, and flipped the switch for the first time on the massive transmitting tower. Stories of the lightning-like flashes that penetrated the night sky circulated amongst the townspeople, but the scientist gave no explanation for the experiments the following day.
Eventually, Tesla was forced to sell Wardenclyffe to settle outstanding hotel bills at the Waldorf-Astoria. By 1917, the tower had been demolished and sold for scrap. What was once a bustling laboratory full of glass blowing equipment, a complete machine shop, X-Ray devices, Tesla coils, a radio controlled boat, generators, and transformers became a vacant monument to Tesla's "forfeited dream."
Today, the site's remaining buildings are at risk of being destroyed as well. The Belgium-based imaging corporation Agfa, which currently owns the land, is looking to sell the lot for $1.6 million. Having already sunk millions into a Superfund cleanup of the heavy photographic metals that contaminated the grounds, Agfa is unwilling to donate the property outright to a group hoping to transform the buildings into a Tesla museum and science education center.
With access to the laboratory, these historical preservationists might even reveal still unknown goals of Tesla's most audacious project. Wardenclyffe is also likely to provide an explanation for the often-rumored network of underground passages that are said to extend from deep below the laboratory all the way to the beachfront.