Originally created 01/18/06

Ben Franklin's restored London home unveiled

LONDON - Benjamin Franklin's only surviving home was unveiled as a museum Tuesday, the 300th anniversary of the American founding father's birth.

Franklin lodged in the modest four-story brick building just off Trafalgar Square between 1757 and 1775, acting as a diplomat on behalf of American colonists. The house - which curators call the "first de facto U.S. Embassy" - was the site of many of the polymath Franklin's scientific experiments including the invention of bifocal glasses and the creation of an ethereal-sounding musical instrument, the glass armonica.

Conservation groups have spent several years and millions of dollars renovating the building, which includes a multimedia "historical experience," an archive of Franklin's papers and a student science center.

The museum was being launched later Tuesday with a gala dinner at the nearby Banqueting House. It opens fully to the public on Feb. 1.

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