If you drive past the Frank J. Carasiti Elementary School on Rocky Point Rd. (Marconi Blvd.), you will see a small white shack on the front lawn. This little shack may not look like much, but it played an important part in history. It is known officially as the Marconi Wireless Building, and affectionately called the Marconi Shack by many locals. The small building is approximately 10 feet by 10 feet, and was originally located in Babylon near the corner of Virginia Ave. and Fire Island Ave. Guglielmo Marconi used this small building for training wireless operators and for beaming wireless messages to ships at sea. The small building, as well as a Victorian country house at the Babylon property comprised the residence and school which was responsible for teaching the Marconi Method of wireless communication, the premier method of the time. The facility first became operational in 1902, and contained a 210 foot mast which allowed the station to broadcast to a 200 mile radius.
Original location of Marconi Building in Babylon.
The small building was operated by the Marconi Wireless Company of America for ten years, at which time the technology became obsolete due to short-wave technology. The Babylon station became forgotten for over 20 years, and the small building was used by local boys for electrical experiments as well as a paint shed by the farmer who owned the property.
Marconi Building at Radio Central, notice Administration Building #1 in the backround.*
The building’s historic significance was brought to the attention of Major Edwin H. Armstrong, a radio engineer and inventor who in turn purchased the building and offered it as a gift to the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) in 1930. The small Marconi Building was accepted by the president of RCA, David Sarnoff, since RCA was the successor to the Marconi Company. The building was housed outside of Administration Building Number One at Radio Central, as a testament to the progress which had been made in wireless technology. The Marconi Shack could transmit 10 words per minute, whereas RCA at that time could transmit 150 words per minute all over the world; a great advancement.
An early movement of the building.*
Guglielmo Marconi, at the time an Italian senator, and his wife visited RCA’s Rocky Point Radio Central on Octopber 16, 1927 and viewed his small transmitting building once again. RCA pondered the idea of bringing the Marconi Building to the World’s Fair in Chicago as an historic radio relic, however that idea was ruled out due to the fragile state of the structure.
In 1960, the Marconi Building, now known as Radio Central Building Number 41, was moved into the historic Robinson Barn, built in 1820 and located on the Radio Central property on the south side of Route 25A. In 1969, the Marconi Building was donated to the Rocky Point School District, and became the official property of New York State. The small building was moved across the street to the Joseph A. Edgar School in 1971. However, before it was moved, the floor was reinforced, new glass windows and shingles were installed, and a fresh coat of white paint was applied.
The Marconi Building outside the Joseph A. Edgar School in Rocky Point.*
In 1987, the first broadcast from the building since the time of Marconi was carried out by the Rocky Point School Eric Trojahn Memorial Amateur Radio Club, thus making the building once again operational. The building was moved again in 1989, across the street from the Joseph A. Edgar School (by crane) to Majestic Gardens Hall, a property owned by the Vincent P. Landi Sons of Italy Lodge, at which time more preservation was completed. On September 14,1994, for the fifth and final time, the small building was moved to its current location at
Restoring and refurbising the building.*
the Frank J. Carasiti School. The building was moved by flatbed and lifted onto a concrete foundation which had been constructed in front of the school. In October 1994, shrubs were planted around the building, and concrete posts with a decorative chain fence were installed, as well as plexiglas to protect the glass windows.
Two large fifty foot wooden poles were sunk behind the structure to resemble the original antenna poles which the Babylon facility once had. Antenna wire was installed on November 1st 1995, repeating history and allowing for morse code and radio messages to once again be sent from the building.
In 1994, Rocky Point Rd.’s name was changed to Maroni Blvd. in memory of a great man and his contributions to our society, and to the way we communicate. Every year around April 25th, Marconi’s birthday, the local amateur radio club broadcasts and receives messages from the historic structure to pay homage to its history. I was present for this event one year and it is truly amazing to witness morse code and voice communications coming in from all over the world. It really is like looking into the past and recreating history. Over the years there have been ownership disputes over the small building. The Town of Babylon would like the building back because of their original affiliation with it, however the building, which has been moved so many times, appears to be staying put for the duration.
Plaque on the Building
* Images courtesy Sarnoff Library.