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  • Writer's pictureJay Hicks

Edison and Ford Winter Estates

With beautiful gardens, architecture, laboratories, great museum and numerous inventions, there is not much to dislike about this for an Edison and Ford Winter Estates.

Less than a mile from downtown Fort Myers you find the original winner home Thomas Edison. He bought the land in 1885, building his winter home in 1886. Automobile magnate, Henry Ford, developed a deep friendship with Edison that began with Ford working for the Detroit Edison Illuminating Company in the 1890s. In 1914, the Ford family first visited the Edison’s in Fort Myers, and in 1916, Ford purchased the property next door to Edison’s.

A fantastic mentor protégé relationship began as the two families wintered here for nearly many years. The Edison’s and Fords planted gardens and trees that can still be found on the property. Culturing of the exotic plants began while trying to gain independence from other countries for materials to create rubber. The consistent rubber supply was intended to reduce shortages and relieve dependencies on foreign markets.

A brilliant museum describes the history of Edison and Fords professional and personal lives. Also discussed is their long and relationship with each other. You will find the Model “T”, a Chuckwagon and numerous other Ford vehicles on display here and in the gardens. You will also see many of Edison’s patented inventions.

But perhaps more interesting was the well documented information on these two great industrialists personal relationship. They found the warm weather in the southern Florida to be perfect for their long discussions about technology, industry, and nature.

When first meeting Henry Ford before the turn of the century, Thomas Edison liked him and became mentor and friend. He enjoyed Ford’s companionship and the families enjoyed each other‘s company as well.

On multiple occasions the two men along with other esteemed friends and colleagues like Harvey Firestone and naturalist John Burroughs set out on adventures of discovery into the Florida Everglades. Calling there reflections at the end of the day the "Fireside Fellowship", these men mapped much of the area and numerous photographs and documentation are on display at the museum from their excursions.

Walking around the estate is very relaxing, as the gardens are well groomed and extremely well marked. Little placards are on many trees, flowers, and shrubs. There are many unique specimens in the gardens, many of which are available for sale near the ticket office. Light food and drink are also available in a shady location near a banyan tree grove. All this beauty is located on the Caloosahatchee River, making the perfect backdrop for the estate.

And afternoon could easily be spent at the estate. You can find hidden gardens around the estate along with swimming pool and a winter laboratory Thomas Edison. The breezy architecture on the estates, was developed with winter Florida living in mind.

Heading southwest from downtown Fort Meyers on McGregor Boulevard, you will find this gem at 2350 McGregor Blvd, Fort Myers, FL 33901, open daily from 9:00 to 5:30.

Next time you’re in Fort Myers, make sure you don’t miss this wonderful treat in an idyllic setting, evoking a grand time gone by.

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