& Text by: Josť Delfino, April 10th, 2009
Myers offers travelers a very interesting visit to a "frozen in
the Mount Olympus of all-American inventors, Edison and Ford stand as
the "Captains of Industry" and share a paramount place in
history. They were good friends,
and Ford, who was 15 years younger than Edison, felt a profound
admiration for his inventive mind.
1885 Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931) first visited Fort Myers. In 1886 he
built his winter home "Seminole Lodge", and he took his bride
Mina Miller Edison (1865-1947) to Fort Myers to honeymoon and vacation.
In 1916 industrialist Henry Ford (1863-1947) purchased the estate next
door, "The Mangoes", in order to spend time with his friend
and mentor. Ford visited his estate in Fort Myers mostly once a year, to
celebrate Edison's birthday.
complex is very well maintained and receives almost a quarter of a
million visitors every year, both houses are located on a beautiful
waterfront land, surrounded by a wide variety of fruit trees and other
botanical species. There is a very interesting on-site museum where
visitors can enjoy a multitude of inventive artifacts, photography, very
interesting documents, and a wonderful laboratory with all kinds of test
tubes, machinery, and artifacts from that period.
property had originally 14 acres along the Caloosahatchet River, located
one mile south of the City of Fort Myers. The land was covered with wild
vegetation which included green, giant bamboo. Edison was experimenting
with this natural fiber, looking for a filament for the incandescent
bulb. He bought the property from cattleman Samuel Summerlin for $2,750.
home looks fantastically frozen in time. In 1947, Mina Edison deeded the
property to the City of Fort Myers for $1. She did not take anything
with her, just walked away.
house was visited by very famous people: Industrialist Harvey Firestone
stayed for days, Charles Lindbergh came for dinner, and the likes of
President Hayes among many others.
Ford worked as a mechanic at the Detroit Edison Plant. He met Edison in
1896 at a conference of the Edison Illuminating Companies. In 1910 they
were reacquainted when Ford requested an autographed photo of Edison for
his new office. Along with the photo, Edison invited the Ford family to
his home in New Jersey. In 1914 Edison invited Henry Ford, wife Clara,
and son Edsel to his winter estate in Fort Myers. In 1916 Henry Ford
bought the adjacent property from Edison's neighbor Roger Smith.
the First World War and after it, the demand for rubber was very high.
Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Harvey Firestone partnered in 1927 and
founded the Edison Botanic Research Corporation. They invested $70,000
and as part of the project they built a laboratory on the property.
There is a fascinating guided tour every hour.
In addition to both
houses and the botanical laboratory, there are many interesting exhibits
at the complex, such as Edison's water treatment plant and swimming
pool, Mina's Moonlight garden, designed by Ellen Biddle Shipman. She was
one of the first female landscape architects in the United States. Also
worthy of note is Edison's guest house and caretaker quarters, several
antique vehicles and most of all, the museum itself, which exhibits
hundreds of fantastic pieces, inventions, diagrams, patents, pictures,
and all kind interesting memorabilia. It's open every day except
Christmas and Thanksgiving day. Tickets are $12.00 and $20.00 for a full
tour. It has audio
devices for complete information on many subjects along the tour. It's a
great experience!. Go to www.efwefla.org
for more information.