Edison & Ford Winter Estates

Fort Myers: Visiting the Edison & Ford Winter Estates

Edison & Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers Florida

Fort Myers has been nicknamed the “City of Palms”. When driving on County Road 867 along the Caloosahatchee River to the former winter residences of brilliant inventor Thomas A. Edison and automobile tycoon Henry Ford, it quickly becomes evident that city owes its nickname to the over-6-foot (20 m)-tall majestic royal palms lining McGregor Boulevard.

The Edison & Ford Winter Estates include Thomas Edison's and Henry Ford's former winter homes, the research laboratories and the adjacent gardens.

Thomas A. Edison (1847-1931) and Henry Ford (1863-1947)—two famous American names—are an important part of Fort Myers' history. Thomas Edison did not only invent the electric light bulb. In fact, he registered a total of 1,093 patents. Henry Ford, the founder of the Ford Motor Company, has become famous for optimizing assembly line technology in the automotive industry, among others. Edison, Ford and their families regularly retired to Fort Myers in the winter months to enjoy the mild climate in southwestern Florida.

Their impressive winter estates provide insights into their life and work on 20 acres of land, including nine historical buildings and botanic gardens.

The sprawling banyan tree at the estate entrance sprouts long and unusual roots from its branches and offers a great photo opportunity. Edison created the gardens mainly, because he researched a variety of plants, to obtain substances such as India rubber for rubber production. He received the banyan tree as gift in 1925 from Harvey Firestone. Originally, it was four feet tall—today, it is the size of a gigantic marquee and covers about an acre.

Edison's residence is named “Seminole Lodge” and includes a main building and a guesthouse. “The Mangoes” is Henry Ford's former estate, where a few of Ford's early automobiles are on display. The gardens include a pool and lead to the pier, where construction material was delivered in the early days, and which later served as a boating and fishing pier for both families. The “Caretaker's House” is the oldest building on the estate.

The estate museum houses exhibits such as the phonograph that served as Thomas Edison's first audio recording device, and the original Model T Ford automobile, Henry Ford's gift to Edison that he had custom built for his friend.

The Research Laboratory from 1928 is adjacent to the research gardens and still includes the original instrumentation and laboratory equipment used by Edison.

Edison & Ford Winter Estates - Impressions

Edison & Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers Florida
Edison & Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers Florida
Edison & Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers Florida
Edison & Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers Florida

Tip:

Wear comfortable footwear when visiting the sprawling estate. If you don't bring your own lunch, the “Banyan Café” serves snacks and is open daily from 10 am to 3 pm.

If you prefer to roam the estate at your own pace, opt for one of the self-guided audio tours. The tours include a small map that helps you navigate to various points of interest and are available in several languages.

Edison & Ford Winter Estates

2350 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers, FL 33901
Phone: +1-239-334-7419
www.edisonfordwinterestates.org

Open daily from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm. Several tours, including self-guided tours, are available. The last guided tour starts at 4:00 pm.

Admission for the Complete Estates Tour (approx. 2.5 hours):
Adults $20.00, children (ages 6-12) $11.00, Children (ages 5 and under) free
Admission for Laboratory & Museum: Adults $12, children (ages 6-12) $5.