In Fort Myers, Florida, groups can learn about the incredible legacy the Edison and Ford families left behind at the Edison and Ford Winter Estates.
Thomas Edison and Henry Ford used to spend their winters in Fort Myers. Now, guests can see where they lived, stroll through 20 acres of botanical gardens, and visit a museum and Edison’s original botanic research laboratory.
“(Groups) will learn about Edison’s and Ford’s inventions — many that people don’t typically know about — learn a little history of Fort Myers and why Edison came here, learn about how Edison and Ford became friends, and they’ll learn how some inventions changed how people lived their lives,” said Lisa Wilson, public relations director for Edison and Ford Winter Estates. “Edison had 1,093 patents — many of his inventions impact our daily lives.”
Open to the public since 1947, Edison and Ford Winter Estates is a National Register Historic Site, and one of the most-visited historic home sites in the country. The gardens contain over 1,700 plants representing over 400 species from six continents.
The laboratory, a National Historic Chemical Landmark since 2014, is the only site in all of Florida with that title. There, groups can see the original equipment Edison, Ford and Harvey Firestone used when they formed the Edison Botanic Research Corporation (EBRC) in 1927.
In the newly renovated museum, groups can wander through 15,000 square feet of exhibits and thousands of artifacts, including Thomas Edison’s 1916 Model T that was gifted to him by Ford.
The Orientation Gallery introduces guests to Edison’s life and electric lighting, his most well-known project. The gallery also explores Ford’s legacy and the Ford Motor Company.
There are a variety of tours offered for groups: self-guided with an audio wand and site map, historian-led guided tours, inside-the-homes tours, inside-the-lab tours, automotive tours, garden tours and guided tours in German. Groups can book visits up to a year in advance, and Wilson recommends groups plan trips at least one month in advance.
For more information, call 239-334-7419 or visit edisonfordwinterestates.org.