The Edison & Ford Winter Estates are located in Fort Myers, southwestern Florida. Situated next to the Caloosahatchee River, the estate spans a total of 21 acres and includes botanical gardens and nine buildings of historic interest including the Edison Ford Museum and Edison’s Botanic Research Laboratory. Dating back to 1885 when Thomas Edison first bought the property, the home and estate was built by 1886 and remained the winter home of the famed inventor and his wife until 1923 and his death. In 1916, the estate next door was bought by Henry Ford, a great friend of Edison's Both estates were later opened to the public by the City. In 2003 the estates were managed and governed by the organisation Thomas Edison & Henry Ford Winter Estates. Inc, with the historic estate still owned by the City. The organisation is not for profit with a focus or preserving and protecting the site.
The Edison & Ford Winter Estates are open seven days a week. Tours of the historical site are available daily with botanical tours available on specific days of the week. The ground can be rented for private events such as weddings and private parties.
One of the 9 historic buildings available to view on the estate is the Henry Ford’s Winter Estate. The home is spaciously set out with a large sun porch and palm trees outside. Complete with riverside view of the Caloosahatchee River the home has all the usual comforts of a spacious ‘old Florida home’ as well as a secretary's bedroom, library and the separate Ford Caretaker's Cottage which was used as both a home for the caretaker and a garage. Today, the Caretaker's Cottage has a photography exhibit inside open for viewing. Inside the Ford Car Exhibit visitors can see a small selection of 20th century Ford cars such as a 1929 Ford Model A, 1919 Ford Model T and 1916 Ford Model T automobiles.
A building of scientific historic significance is Edison’s Botanic Research Laboratory. Inside the large building visitors can see displays, exhibits and scientific paraphernalia as it was kept nearly 100 years ago. An original thermostat is fitted to the wall, extraction and distillation apparatus is present on storage shelves and seven work tables fitted with gas, electricity and water still remain. An inventory from 1929 lists the chemical supplies in the laboratory and the Chemical Processing Area shows the history of where Edison and his team began testing plants for and attempting to make synthetic rubber during World War One.
The 15,000 square foot museum which also includes a gift shop contains artifacts, special exhibitions and the many inventions of Ford and Edison. Visitors can see the Main Gallery which includes Edison’s inventions such as an x ray machine and a telegraph. The Edison Botanic Research Corporation (EBRC) exhibit, the Hall of Inventions exhibit and the The Wizard Invents exhibit which shows a timeline of invention are all accompanied by written information plaques. There are many more exhibits within the museum with a Model T custom made automobile gifted to Edison by Ford displaying just one of the original designs on show.
Within the Thomas Edison’s Winter Estate is the home of Edison which has its doors open to the public. This sizable residence of the inventor comes complete with maids quarters, food pantry and butler’s pantry. The Edison’s estate also has a beautiful and era appropriate Moonlight garden with rectangular pond, outdoor pool and the remains of the pier where Mr and Mrs Edison would spend much of their time, by the river.
The Botanical Gardens reach 13 acres with over 1,000 varieties of plants. There are also over 50 species of palm trees, a sausage tree, orchids, cycads and bromeliads on display. In front of the estates there is a huge 400 ft Banyan tree dating back to 1925. The tree has a single root system despite its vast size and is among one of hundreds of mostly fruit trees across the estate.
Ongoing Programs & Education
The Edison & Ford Winter Estates have a Home School Program where students can actively be involved in learning about engineering, history, invention and science. Creative programs for students are also offered specialising in graphic art and design. An Emerging Inventors Program is run by the estate giving a chance for one to five year olds to be involved in inventing, creativity, science experiments and socializing. A further program held at the estate is the Edison Ford Wild Wizard Program where both students and educators can learn in an interactive way through demonstrations and activities.
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2350 I Blvd, Fort Myers, FL 33901, Phone: 239-334-7419