Ft. Myers – Edison-Ford Estates


We decided that Sunday we’d revisit the Edison-Ford Estates. We had briefly walked around the grounds when we were here in 2006, but didn’t take the time to do the tour then, we were really too preoccupied with our primary purpose of making a decision on a boat! Saturday’s weather was near-perfect, but a fresh front was entering the area on Sunday, and the morning began overcast. We made the mile and a third hike to the Estates before lunch, and spent most of the afternoon there, enjoying a light lunch on the grounds.


Thomas Edison purchased the 13+ acre property in 1885, and erected 2 homes on the site. The buildings were pre-fabricated components and materials from New England and assembled on site. The Edison family enjoyed stays at the estate until 1947 when Mrs. Edison deeded the property to the City of Fort Myers. It was Edison’s winter home, and also served as a laboratory where he experimented extensively with botanical research, in particular a search for species that could be grown domestically as a source or replacement for rubber or latex. Bamboo was researched as a material for light bulb filaments, and hundreds of exotic plants were grown on the grounds.


Edison’s friend, Henry Ford, was a frequent guest, and eventually purchased the adjacent property and home in 1916 as Ford’s winter retreat known as “The Mangoes”. Early in his career, Henry Ford was employed by Edison who was his mentor, encouraging him to pursue his interests in the automotive industry. Ford and Edison shared areas of the estates, with Ford keeping several vehicles in Edison’s buildings, and sharing some of the costs of upkeep and development. Ford and Edison were longtime friends, sharing ideas as well. Edison assisted Ford with development in several areas of the automotive field.


The Ford’s typically spent 2 weeks during the winter at The Mangoes, the Edison’s wintered at Seminole Lodge, with Edison continuing his work at his lab located on the grounds. They frequently entertained guests among whom were Ford, Harvey Firestone, and President Herbert Hoover. The Banyan tree located on the east side of the property was given to Edison by Harvey Firestone in 1925, and at about an acre in diameter, is said to be the largest in the continental US.


The museum and visitors’ center showcases many of Edison’s inventions and provides an interesting look at the inventor. Edison has the distinction of being awarded at least one patent each year for 65 continuous years. He held a total of 1903 patents.

The visit to the Edison-Ford Estates was an interesting and enjoyable time, I’d recommend it to others planning a visit to the area, a very worthwhile visit! There are more photos in the Gallery, click on any of the photos in the post, or here.

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