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Jerry Lemelson was America's most prolific inventor. Source: The Lemelson Foundation.

The stunning Lake Tahoe home of Jerome Lemelson and his interior designer wife, Dorothy, bears out Lemelson’s soaring and outsized genius as one of the most prolific American inventors of all time.

And now the estate is apparently being sold to a new owner, concluding another chapter in the remarkable life of Lemelson, whose legacy is carried on through the Lemelson Foundation:

There is little in our contemporary world that has not been touched by the creative genius of Jerome Lemelson. Bar code readers and cordless phones, cassette players and camcorders, automated manufacturing systems, even crying baby dolls — these devices and hundreds of others that have shaped our lives derive from the inventions and innovations of this remarkable man.”

Known as Osprey Estate, the original home was built in 1995 after intense collaboration between the Lemelsons and their architect, builder and landscape architect. The 7,100-square-foot main house at 593 Lakeshore Blvd, Incline Village, NV 89451 includes 8 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms and sits nestled along 670 feet of lakefront. According to listing agent Kerry Donovan of Chase International, a sale is pending for the property, which was most recently listed for sale at $29.5 million.

Osprey Estate may be the most expensive Incline Village property currently on the market, but it’s not the priciest on Lake Tahoe; Tommy Hilfiger’s “Tranquility” estate at Zephyr Cove, NV is listed for $75 million. Nevertheless, Lemelson’s estate on the northern shores of the largest alpine lake is a testament to the relentless drive and creative ambition of the man whose bar code technology changed the world — and brought him millions.

Lemelson was a champion of the patent process and the integrity of his inventions, successfully suing major players in the world’s automotive industry for more than $400 million in settlement fees in 1993.

Sadly, the man who registered more than 600 patents for inventions in the medical and technology industries as well as toys and gadgets succumbed to liver cancer in 1997, just two years after Osprey Estate was completed. According to his Lemelson Center biography:

His response (the the cancer diagnosis) was to step up his pace of invention. Now he focused increasingly on medical technologies, particularly technologies that could be used for cancer treatment. He had invented medical instruments and techniques in the past — a talking thermometer for the visually impaired, a method for treating blood clots, a computer-controlled tourniquet, even a cancer detection and treatment method. Now he intensified his research. He read medical journals and spent hours on the phone talking with his oncologists and doctors at other cancer clinics. He was particularly interested in drug-delivery systems and immunotherapy.”

In 2006, to pay homage to her late husband, Lemelson’s widow added a serene conference center and guesthouse to the 8-acre property. Portland architect Roderick Ashley designed the 1,000-square-foot award-winning project, which was featured in Architectural Digest in 2009.

The home had been on the market for three years, originally listed for sale for $34 million due to its location and amenities, as noted in the listing brochure:

Reminiscent of a Frank Lloyd Wright residence with its exterior natural limestone and clean geometric lines, the home exudes an air of timeless elegance. The functional floor plan includes eight bedrooms, seven full baths and three half baths. The home is enhanced with classic contemporary touches such as white sycamore hardwood flooring, European and Indiana limestone throughout the kitchen and bathrooms, and custom Lord Adams V’ Soske rugs.

A spacious entertaining deck and an infinity-like indoor pool are both oriented toward the south to capture glorious Sierra vistas. Additionally, there is a radiant-heated outdoor stone patio located off the second floor living area. The main residence is surrounded by gardens and stately cedars that shield it from blustery winter weather and also provide shade and privacy during summer months.

Now, it appears, the Lemelson family is moving from this dream home Jerry and “Dolly” built after moving from New Jersey 20 years ago.

One of Lemelson’s two sons, Eric, owns and operates Lemelson Vineyards in the wine-rich region of Carlton, OR. An environmental lawyer by training, Lemelson is a champion of environmentally sustainable farming and activist against global warming — emulating his famous father’s penchant for preserving natural resources and finding new ways of doing things.

The house in Tahoe may be under contract, but the future of American inventors is still up for sale, or at least sponsorship. Each year, a $500,000 award is granted to young inventors through the prestigious Lemelson-MIT prize.

 Related:

About the Author

Laura Vecsey is a former sports columnist, news reporter and politics writer and has worked for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Baltimore Sun, Albany (N.Y.) Times-Union and Harrisburg Patriot-News. She was also a regional editor with Examiner.com. She is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College.

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