Antonio Meucci, rarely mentioned in history books, is considered to be the true inventor of the telephone. Meucci filed for a preliminary patent application for his ”teletrofono” in 1871 but was hampered by a lack of funds and command of the English language. Alexander Graham Bell went on to successfully patented his version of the telephone in 1876.
After being forced to flee Italy in 1850, Giuseppe Garibaldi sought refuge with his friends, the Meucci family, on Staten Island. He returned to Italy in 1854 and became an international hero for his role in the fight for the independence and unity of Italy.
The Gothic-revival style Meucci house was built in the 1840s.
After Garibaldi died in 1882, a marble plaque was installed over the front door to commemorate his time in Staten Island.
In 1907, on the centennial of Garibaldi’s birth, the house was moved two blocks to its present location where a pantheon was erected over it by the Garibaldi Society. The columned dome was stucco and wood and sat on a concrete base, making it one of the oddest architectural structures in New York City.
In 1956 the National Order Sons of Italy, which had controlled the memorial since 1919, demolished the decrepit pantheon, filled the restored house with artifacts from Meucci and Garibaldi, and opened the house as a museum.