Edison and Ford Winter Estates, Ft Myers
||Fort Myers, FL|
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Edison and Ford Winter Estates are two homes with exquisite gardens on the Caloosahatchee River, plus an interesting museum and lab showing Thomas Edison and Henry Ford's work. It's a joy for the eyes and the mind! Kids love to do the audio tour, pressing the numbers on their gizmo that correspond with the numbers on the plaques throughout the property. There is even music from the period on the audio tour, that you can listen to as you stroll along the river!
Thomas Edison first bought a home on this land in 1885 because he loved the bamboo grove here and wanted to test the fibers as a filament for the light bulb. Rail travel to Fort Myers was not even available yet (it began in 1904) so he had to come down by boat from St. Augustine. In 1916 Henry Ford, his friend, bought a home next door. The two came down for winters with their families. The homes are fairly modest and you can walk on their lovely wide verandas and look inside through the windows. You can walk inside the caretaker's cottage and see headline news cartoons of the time featuring Edison and Ford, who were extremely influential because of their inventions. Near the caretakers cottage is a moonlight garden created by Edison's wife, Mina. Here a pool surrounded by flower pots reflects the full moon.
Edison was busy all the time filing new patents (1,093 in total) and creating such a diverse range of inventions. Because he and Ford needed to find a domestic source of rubber and other materials for their inventions, he planted the incredible trees on the property. We get to enjoy the results of this. What an astounding banyan tree with aerial roots of extraordinary height is at the front of the museum! It was given to Edison by Harvey Firestone in 1925, who wanted to try out the sap as a source of rubber, which was not a viable option in the end. The tree's canopy covers one acre of land! And what a beautiful Mysore Fig is on the river near Ford's house! You cannot help but be enchanted by these trees.
The swimming pool is pretty with its tropical landscaping and tea house. There is also a lily pond, fountain, and a pier that stretches out into the river. Barges brought building materials via the river.
Edison had hundreds of royal palms brought from Cuba and planted for 1.5 miles (there are now 7 miles of palms) on McGregor Blvd. He also had a double row of mango trees planted on the boulevard, decked out with orchids from all over the world.
At the Banyan Cafe, you can sit by the giant banyan tree on plastic chairs and enjoy an icecream or snack from a vendor from 10-3.
Fort, Edison, and Firestone founded a lab where they wanted to produce rubber. You can walk inside this lab and see it as it was set up, with beakers and glass tubes.
The museum is fascinating, with beautiful displays of Edison's inventions, Ford's cars, and inventions by others who worked for Edison, such as Lewis Latimer.
Photo GalleryClick on photo to see large version
From Highway 41, turn toward the water on Edison Ave. Turn right on Euclid Ave. Turn left on Virginia Ave. Turn left on McGregor Blvd and then turn left into the large parking lot. Parking is free. Make sure to drive along McGregor Blvd for a while to see the hundreds of royal palms that line the road.
The address is 2350 McGregor Boulevard, Fort Myers, FL 33901, call (239) 334-7419.
Open daily 9-5:30. Last guided tour is at 4pm.
Entrance for adults is $20 for the museum, homes, gardens, lab, short orientation, and audio tour (available in English, German, French, and Spanish). Children aged 6-12 enter for $11. Children aged 5 and under are free. $5 extra for historian-led tour.
There are other themed tours and river cruises- see website for times.
ADA accessible, with wheelchairs available.
This is an interactive map, you can zoom and move it.
Overall Visitor Rating: Unrated.