Edison & Ford Winter Estates, Fort Myers, Florida: Photo Tour of the Grounds, Inventions, and Homes
No matter where you are in South Florida, you must visit the splendid winter estates of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford in Fort Myers. If you are traveling from I 75, you can exit on Martin Luther King Boulevard or from Sarasota south on US 41, take McGregor Boulevard as you cross the Caloosahatchee River. It is easy to find.
Off McGregor Blvd, enter the parking area to the west and the sights begin immediately. A magnificent stand of banyan trees are evident drawing you into the museum area.
Edison did much of his work right on these grounds. His lab and office buildings have been restored and are open to the public. Walking into the museum your eyes meet invention after invention of the very imaginative and creative mind of Thomas Alva Edison. .
Hundreds of items are on display. Below are a few of the most interesting to me. (Photos by author, available from firstname.lastname@example.org)
Once you are finished visiting the museum, be sure to get a listening device in order to get all the interesting information on the buildings and grounds. Now, go across the street to the estates themselves. Here we find the actual houses used by the Edison and Ford families. Lets start with the caretakers house. What a great job that would have been--living on these beautiful grounds, in this great house, in Fort Myers, and with the wonderful Florida climate.
Below is a book I recommend if you are interested in Dr. Edison and his work. The video that follows is quite long, but it is an excellent video to accompany the book. If you are interested in Edison, you won't want to miss it.
Synopsis: "Starting with the first public demonstrations of the phonograph in 1878 and extending through the development of incandescent light and the first motion-picture cameras, Thomas Edison’s name became emblematic of all the wonder and promise of the emerging age of technological marvels. But this critical biography of the man who is arguably the most famous of all Americans provides a fuller view of Edison’s life and times–revealing not only how he worked, but how he managed his own fame, becoming the first great celebrity of the modern age."
The museum and grounds also have a home and remembrances of Henry Ford. Since Edison and Ford were good friends as well as manufacturing innovators, they decided to build winter homes together. The grounds seem to be all one piece and both families spent many winters right here in Fort Myers. While there are many of Edison's memorabilia here, there are only several cars that are representative of the life of Henry Ford.
I enjoy biographies and the one below is quite well written as well as being personal, a combination not usually found in biographies.
Synopsis: "This book is the original autobiographical work by Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company. In this book, Ford details how he got into business, the strategies that he used to become a wealthy and successful businessman, and what others can do by learning from the examples he has outlined. This book should be read by small business owners, business students and those interested in the history of the automobile. Henry Ford will take you through a journey of history, business and lessons to be learned from which he used to develop his financial empire."
Below is the best video I've seen on Henry Ford presenting his good and bad qualities. Watch it when you have enough time to see it all. I think it will be worth it.
The first home you come to is the caretaker's home, a typical Florida Cracker home. However, it has several "modern" conveniences that you will want to see.
Not many homes had a swimming pool in those days, but here is one that offers freshwater fun with ocean views, side by side. You'll also want to learn about the many ingenious facilities Edison and Ford worked into the water system.
Edison had a small, cozy office which has been restored to perfection as has all of the houses. Since all the structures are completely furnished as they were in the 1920s, they are open to look into, but you cannot enter them.
Moving on across the grounds we find the main residences. These two homes are magnificent examples of early Florida houses with the rear facing out over the bay,
If you are a plant lover, you are going to love these grounds. There are flowers everywhere. Here are just a few of the dozens of plants in every direction.
You can wander and wonder to your heart's content, and it will take quite awhile until it is content. You'll not want to miss the Florida estates of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford.
© 2011 Wes Rouse