The Volta Laboratory and Bureau is a National Historic Landmark tied to the career and interests of the famous inventor Alexander Graham Bell. Mr. Bell is best known as the inventor of the telephone, which he patented in 1876.
Alexander Bell had the building known as the Volta Laboratory built in 1893 on the land across the street from his father's home in Washington, D.C. The laboratory was built as a center for the treatment and to provide information on deafness. Hearing impairments affected several individuals in Mr. Bell's family - including his wife Mabel Hubbard - and the study and treatment of deafness was a primary interest in his life along with his inventions.
The name for the laboratory and bureau came from the Volta Prize, awarded by France to Alexander Graham Bell for the invention of the telephone. The prize included an award of 50,000 francs, a very significant sum in those days. Over time, Mr. Graham donated over $400,000 - equivalent to $10 million today - to the Volta Bureau fund, supporting the studies of the laboratory.
The Volta Laboratory building is of neoclassical design, constructed from matched yellow sandstone with terracotta architectural feature. The building is unique to this area of the city. The laboratory and bureau are a landmark to the passions of Mr. Bell outside of his well known career as an inventor.