12/30 - Edison & Ford Winter Estates

by Kevin January. 12, 2010 4690 views

Since we were flying home out of Ft. Myers, we decided to kill some time at the Edison and Ford Winter Estates in Ft. Myers. Since we had limited time, we toured the museum, laboratory, and walked past the homes.

The Edison and Ford Winter Estates contain a historical museum and 17 acre (6.9 hectares) botanical garden on the adjacent sites of the winter homes of Thomas Alva Edison and Henry Ford beside the Caloosahatchee River in southwestern Florida.

The Edison and Ford Winter Estates is a world class cultural and educational resource honoring the innovation and creativity of two of America’s most influential individuals – Thomas Edison and Henry Ford.

One side of the 400-foot (120 m) banyan tree given by Harvey Firestone in 1925. It was originally an experimental garden for industrial products.

Ford’s custom made 1918 Model T kitchen truck for camping

“The Inventions of Edison” –This permanent exhibit displays samples of Edison’s work as an inventor including the telegraph, telephone, cement, rubber, business machines as voice-recorders, stock-ticker, x-ray machine, domestic appliances as toasters and irons, and many examples of the progression of the light bulb.

“Edison and the Movies” – On view are selected examples from the Estates collection of movie projectors, cameras, nickelodeons and like entertainment devices.

“Edison and His Phonograph” – The Estates has collected hundreds of phonographs over the years.

On permanent display are early and unique phonographs and records, related inventions, and images as posters and photographs telling of the pleasures of this marvel invention.

The other side of the enormous banyan tree. There was no way to get far enough away to capture the entire tree.

The Botanic Research Laboratory is one of the most absorbing features of the Edison Estate. Here, workers helped Edison in his research on goldenrod as a source of natural rubber.

The Laboratory is filled with the original apparatus and equipment Edison used to conduct his rubber research, as well as the cot where Edison took “catnaps” while working in the laboratory.

When the price of rubber soared in the late 1920’s, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone combined their efforts, talents and finances in search of a natural source for rubber. Together they established the Edison Botanic Research Company. Extensive research proved Goldenrod, a common weed growing to an average height of 3-4 feet, produced 5% yield of latex. Through hybridization, Edison produced Goldenrod in excess of 12 feet, yielding 12% latex.

Photo by Stephanie.

The present site dates from 1885, when Edison first visited Florida and purchased the property to build a vacation home.

His home, completed in 1887 and dubbed “Seminole Lodge”, served as a winter retreat and place of relaxation until Edison's death in 1931.

Edison’s good friend Henry Ford purchased the adjoining property in 1916 where he purchased “The Mangoes” from Robert Smith of New York. Ford's craftsman style bungalow was but in 1911 by Smith.

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Leocheung 10 years, 1 month ago

So much to see, so interesting.

10 years, 1 month ago Edited
Amy Whicker 10 years, 2 months ago

I live in Fort Myers!

10 years, 2 months ago Edited
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