Marconi's daughter, a princess, visits Belmar site he constructed

At the the Infoage Science History Museum (from left) museum chair Mike Ruane, Monmouth County Clerk Claire French, Princess Elettra Marconi Giovanelli, and museum director Fred Carl, with a painting of physicist and inventor Guglielmo Marconi, the princess' father.
At the the Infoage Science History Museum (from left) museum chair Mike Ruane, Monmouth County Clerk Claire French, Princess Elettra Marconi Giovanelli, and museum director Fred Carl, with a painting of physicist and inventor Guglielmo Marconi, the princess' father. (DAVE SICA)
Posted: July 08, 2014

She wasn't even born when her father was making history.

But Princess Elettra Marconi Giovanelli, the daughter of legendary Italian physicist Guglielmo Marconi, has faithfully spread the story of his work, sharing it this summer in New Jersey as part of a North American tour that also took her to schools and museums in Massachusetts and Canada.

She visited the Infoage Science History Museum in the 2200 block of Marconi Road in Wall Township, N.J., to commemorate the 101st anniversary of her father's visit to the site on June 30, 1913.

Marconi, co-inventor of the radio and 1909 recipient of the Nobel Prize, was inspecting construction there of the Belmar Receiving Station for the Marconi Wireless Co.

He wanted to create a "wireless girdle" of communication around the earth - and the Belmar Station, now a National Historic Landmark on the ground of the Infoage Museum, was the largest Marconi location at the time.

"This is a wonderful place, and I will come back with my son very soon," said the princess, who also visited the College of New Jersey in Ewing and Rutgers University in New Brunswick in June.

She acquired her title by marriage to Prince Carlo Giovanelli in 1966 and has one son, Prince Guglielmo Marconi Giovanelli, who shares his mother's interest in spreading the story of his namesake.

The princess was born in 1930 and witnessed Marconi's experiments aboard his yacht Elettra before his passing in 1937.

Last Monday, she was given a tour of the historic Marconi site and Infoage Museum, was honored during a luncheon, and was present as her father was inducted on the museum's Wall of Honor.

In 1913, Marconi's work sparked some controversy. An engineer warned that the Belmar Station would knock out telephone service within a five-mile radius, according to a report in the Asbury Park Press.

"Completely disagree with expert's declaration," Marconi said in a wire. "Belmar plant will not affect any telephones within five miles."

Marconi's station had six 400-foot radio antenna towers that have since been taken down, along with a power station, two cottages, a transmission room, and a majestic three-story hotel that all still exist today.

"During Marconi's visit to the site, he was looking at something that he was bringing to life," said Dan Lieb, a trustee of the Infoage Museum. "His daughter got to see it 101 years later as new life was being breathed into it.

"It served as a communication hub and now it will serve to communicate concepts in science and events in history," Lieb said. "We weren't there in 1913 to see Guglielmo Marconi grace the premises but his immediate offspring, his daughter, was there - and that was a thrill."

The princess' tour in June also was intended to raise funds for the restoration of her father's house, a Renaissance-era palace in Bologna, Italy.

She wants to convert it into an academic center for students studying science, technology, engineering, and medicine.

"I want to bring the building to life with students from America who can continue my father's work," she said.


ecolimore@phillynews.com

856-779-3833

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