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Edison & Ford Museum of Fort Myers - Orlando / Florida Guide

Florida Guide > Other Activities

When we visited, the 'Holiday Nights' programme was on. Access from 530pm with the homes and gardnes decorated for Christmas. An awesome sight. Overally, not much for young children but for anyone interested in history and inventions, a great attraction and well worth the entrance fee.

The Thomas Edison & Henry Ford Winter Estates museum was setup to preserve the home, botanical gardens, and laboratory of Thomas Edison as well as the winter home of Henry Ford.

Thomas Edison first visited Florida in 1885. He purchased property along the Caloosahatchee River and built a vacation home which served as a winter retreat and work place for the prolific inventor until his death in 1931.

' Seminole Lodge' : The home, designed by Mr. Edison, was built in sections in Fairfield, Maine in 1885. The sections were then transported to Fort Myers by four sailing schooners and erected in 1886. When you visit ' Seminole Lodge, ' you enter a world unlike any you have ever seen. The furnishings and architecture of these gracious, rambling buildings are reminiscent of a bygone era. The inventive genius of Edison is evident throughout his 14-acre riverfront estate.

In the spacious homes, are countless reminders of the years the Edisons shared in this tropical paradise. The electric chandeliers, ' electroliers, ' were designed by Edison and hand made of brass in his own workshop.

In the early 1900s, Mr. Edison built one of Florida' s first swimming pools with cement from his own Edison Portland Cement Company. Mr. Edison used the water from an artesian well to fill the pool and irrigate the botanical gardens.

On March 6, 1947, Mrs. Edison donated the estate to the City of Fort Myers and in November of that year, public touring of the estate began.

The tropical botanical garden, one of the most complete in America, contains more than a thousand varieties of plants imported from all over the world, including African sausage trees and a Banyan tree, which was a gift from Harvey Firestone in 1925. Originally, this was an experimental garden. Edison was interested in the various products and byproducts of the plants, which he used in many of his scientific investigations. Later Mrs. Edison enhanced the garden with many beautiful plants, including roses, orchids and bromeliads.

The close friendship between Henry Ford and Thomas Edison brought Mr. and Mrs. Ford to Fort Myers in 1915 as guests in the Edison' s home. The following year, Mr. Ford purchased the house next door to his good friend; and for 15 years, the Fords came to their home in Fort Myers every winter to spend time with the Edisons. They shared their families, local friends and well-known guests, including Harvey Firestone and John Burroghs, the naturalist. The Ford home, ' Mangoes, ' was purchased by the City of Fort Myers in 1988 and was opened for public tours in 1990.

Edison Museum: An artifact museum, dedicated by Charles Edison, son of the inventor, was built to preserve and house memorabilia related to Thomas Edison' s life. One of the displays in the museum is Edison' s unique Model T Ford, a prototype model presented to Edison by his friend, Henry Ford. Also on display is a collection of over 200 Edison phonographs.

Laboratory: The chemical laboratory is one of the most absorbing features of the Edison Estate. Here, workers helped Edison in his research for a viable source of natural rubber. Throughout the laboratory, where Edison conducted his last major experiments.

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