Thursday, April 8, 2010

A tour of Thomas Edison’s Winter Home in Ft. Myers, Florida on the banks of the Caloosahatchee River


“Seminole Lodge” is Thomas Edison’s winter estate, located on the banks of the Caloosahatchee River in Ft. Myers, Florida. The home, grounds, gardens and his laboratory, along with his good friend automobile magnate Henry Ford’s home, “Mangos,” are open for the public to tour daily 9:00 am – 5:30 pm. If you’re in the area, it is a “must see” for all ages.

Thomas Edison was considered one of the most prolific inventors in history. Many of his inventions we enjoy today, including the electric light bulb, the phonograph and the motion picture camera.



Spacious verandas and 14’ wide porches provide cooling ventilation for the Edison home, built in 1885. The spacious guest house is connected to the main house by covered walkways. The Edison’s guest list included great inventors of the time, including Harvey Firestone and Henry Ford. Henry Ford eventually bought “Mangos,” the home next door, in 1916 to spend his winters with his good friend and neighbor, Thomas Edison. After Edison’s death, Ford sold his home and never returned.

Living room of the Edison home, furnished in comfortable wicker.


Dining room of Seminole Lodge



One of 13 individually styled brass electroliers throughout the home, patented and manufactured exclusively for the Edison Company. The original bulbs still burn.



This is a glimpse into the Edison’s Florida kitchen, where you can imagine servants preparing platters of mangos and glasses of freshly hand-squeezed orange juice for breakfast for their guests escaping the cold from the north. Look at the old fashioned "ice box" in the background of the butlers pantry.


One of the servants rooms

Mina Edison's bedroom

The Edison’s master suite is separate from the main house, connected by a spacious porch. It is comprised of a two bedroom suites, one for Thomas and one for Mina.


Thomas Edison's desk


Thomas Edison had a pool constructed of Edison Portland Cement built for his family and guests in 1910. At the time it was among the first modern swimming pools. Interestingly, Edison never used the pool himself as he did not believe in exercise.






One of the old cars on exhibit




Thomas Edison spent many long hours in his laboratory, often taking cat naps on a near-by cot. Only four people worked in the lab itself with Edison: a clerk, chemist, machinist and a glassblower. Each was able to multi-task on all aspects of the project. The laboratory looks just as it did the last day in June of 1931, when Thomas Edison left to return to his home in New Jersey and died that October at age 84.

During World War I, Edison and his friends, Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone, became aware that the supply of rubber in the US would be cut off and there would be major costs to their respective industries. Together in 1927 they set up and funded the Edison Botanical Research Company.



Edison tried several thousand plants and decided to concentrate on goldenrod, a common weed that causes thousands of us to sneeze from allergies, which grows up to 3-4 feet with a 5% yield. He developed a strain that grew to a height of 12 feet and had a yield of 12% latex. Rubber research and experimentation continued after Edison’s death under the leadership of his brother-in-law.

I couldn’t help but think, as we walked to our car parked near the huge old banyan tree near his laboratory, of the three old friends, all geniuses of their time, sitting under the ancient tree, chit chatting and bouncing ideas off of each other that would affect generations to come.

Much of the information provided here today came from the Edison & Ford Winter Estates literature provided during the tour.

This will be linked to Oh The Places I've Been at The Tablescaper.

47 comments:

  1. I absolutely loved this post! I love learning about inventors, and such. If I am ever down that way, I will check it out. Thanks!

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  2. Hi Sam...enjoyed your article and was fortunate to visit the facilities just this past February.

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  3. This was a wonderful post, Sam. Thanks for sharing your tour with us. Our family home was not far from Edison Park in New Jersey, so I found this most interesting. I hope you are having a wonderful day...Mary

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  4. Sam, thanks for taking me in the house. We've been by it several times when my husband used to race jet skis. We were in that area for many races. On my other blog I have a few places around Sarasota, and John Ringling Mansion, but they wouldn't let us take photos inside. You have to take the virtual on-line tour.

    I just love the verandas, and the French doors. The kitchen seems so simple! I'd love to see that in person.

    Interesting that he didn't believe in exercise, maybe that is why he had a seperate bedroom:)

    Don't you wonder just what he was working on last in that lab?

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  5. oh i adore visiting places like this what fun, must come to this part of FL next

    Sam the Good Cooker!

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  6. Thanks for the tour, Sam! It looks like a very comfortable home. I love all the porches!

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  7. What a great post. I love touring historic homes!

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  8. Oh what a nice tour... I live three years in Orlando and never heard about this Tour...

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  9. I love places where you can just feel the history like walking through a thick misty fog.

    One of my favorite things about Edison was a quote attributed to him about failure during his attempt to perfect the light bulb, "I haven't failed, I've invented 1,000 ways NOT to make a light bulb."

    (Yes the quote is disputed and the number changes drastically but it works for me.)

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  10. I love this post Sam! I never knew Edison, Ford and Firestone were such friends. Edison's home is gorgeous. Sounds like a very fun way to spend the day.

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  11. Fascinating - love the history - another love of mine. I have an aunt in Ft. Myers - you are tempting me to visit.

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  12. I have been to Fort Myers and Thomas Edison's home many years ago. What sticks out in my memory for me are the banyon trees, the lightbulbs that still burn and the fact that he made a fuel for cars from goldenrod. We also went to the barnum and Bailey Museum which I beleive is in Sarasota..very interesting and beautiful and well.

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  13. What a fun tour! If we are ever in the area, we will definitely visit this house!

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  14. What fun! I can't believe I've never seen this house!
    First of all, don't you love the names of rivers in the south??
    Second: don't you adore the old white wicker furniture? My MIL had a huge porchful of it. And she had a gorgeous wicker bassinet, which I repaired and used for all my kids.
    Third: Can't you just picture those three in the early evening out on the veranda?

    Great post, Sam!

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  15. what a great post..I love all the pics of the house..the kitchen is my fav, also the bedrooms and so much light...lovely post

    sweetlife

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  16. What a great informative article! Thank you for writing it.

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  17. As always, a beautiful post. I love taking your virtual tours. Always so informative and always beautiful pictures. I felt like I was actually there.

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  18. What an interesting post, Sam!
    I love visiting houses that belonged to famous, or important characters of history, artists...Seems like we can imagine what their real life was like...I see you are reading the book about Monet's cooking...not that he actually cooked, but at least he loved giving receptions in his home of Giverny..have you seen that yellow kitchen? Lovely!
    Thanks for sharing!
    Un beso,
    Cristina

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  19. I've enjoyed my "arm chair travel" with you this morning. Thanks so much! Now, could we stop for a glass of wine?

    Best,
    Bonnie

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  20. I love this post, so full of historic information of the life and times of Thomas Edison. I don't think I've ever seen an ice box - that's quite interesting!

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  21. Sam, I have been past the Edison Estate, but never visited. We used to frequent Sanibel beach before we got the NC property.

    He was an amazing man. I can't imagine that he didn't believe in exercise!

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  22. You know, who needs to travel when we have your gorgeous posts often? I love this one...how absolutely stunning of a place.

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  23. Isn't it amazing that some of the most brilliant people in history didn't even have a formal education! I found it quite incredible that the original bulbs are still up and running in the home. What a terrific place! Thanks so much for the tour.

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  24. Sam, Edison is one of my heroes. Thanks for the tour of his house!

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  25. Sam, this is a great post. I remember being very intriqued with Edison when I first learned about him in elementary school. I even made a psuedo model of a phonograph out of cardboard and foil, which I kept for some time. I've often thought about visiting his home in New Jersey, but still have not gotten there. Perhaps this is the summer to make the trip. Thanks for this look inside his "vacation home" although I suspect someone like Edison was always in creative mode!

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  26. Edison's Florida home is one place I've always wanted to visit. Thanks so much for the tour!

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  27. I enjoyed reading this post! Learned a lot too.

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  28. Enjoyed the tour! I think the servants room was my favorite-or the lab with all the bottles.

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  29. We did vacation in Ft. Myers, but never made it to Edison's home! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to virtually experience a visit there, very interesting! I love the image you took of the pool, it looks like an Impressionist painting.

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  30. Saw your profile on another page. Glad I read your informative and well-written blog. Look forward to following you here. Have a great night. Cheers!

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  31. Loved the tour of Edison's home. Thank you for taking my along! :)

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  32. Hello Sam!

    Thanks for the tour in Edison's fabulously & lovely home!
    I am always on a trip at your blog!

    Beautiful pictures too!

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  33. This brought back memories! I grew up in a small town just east of Ft. Myers and have been to the Edison Home several times. It really is a fascinating place that people of all ages will enjoy. Glad you got a chance to visit :)

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  34. That was such an interesting post. I enjoy so much visiting old historical places like this. Your post was so informative and the pictures very good. Loved it.

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  35. We have been to Edison's and Ford's home, and they are wonderful. I love Fort Myers.

    These were three brilliant men, and I have always been fascinated by their friendship.

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  36. Such an interesting post, Sam. I love seeing places like this; your photos are great. It reminds me a little of Ernest Hemingway's home in Key West - not necessarily as a carbon copy but more that it seems to have the same type of vibe. Have you ever visited his home? It's wonderful, too.

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  37. What awesome tour! If in the area, we will definitely visit this house beautiful ~

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  38. thanks so much for the tour~has been a while since I have been down that way. Need to visit his home, so interesting.

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  39. This was an interesting tour, Sam. Thanks so much! If I am ever in Fort Meyers area I'll be sure to visit Edison's beautiful summer home.

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  40. Thank you for this amazing tour!

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  41. What a delightful travel this evening. I loved this story. So thankful you shared with us. xo marlis

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  42. This was such a fun "trip" to take...thanks very much for all the information and the great photos. I saw your post over at The Tablescaper blog.

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  43. I was just there last month and I almost posted the poics today too. Glad I decided on another trip. I love that place, we bought a vacation house not too far from it. I love the grounds!....Christine

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  44. I love this post and for many reasons beyond it's beauty and wealth of information. My parents had a home in Florida for quite some time. One day while I was visiting with my children we decided to go and visit, but got totally lost and never made it. My Dad is no longer with us, but this sure brings back the memories of our time with him.

    - Alma, The Tablescaper

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  45. Such a lovely vacation home. My favorite actually is the laboratory-that would be fascinating room to see. I learn so much from seeing where everyone gets to travel too.
    Ann

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  46. This was so interesting, Sam! Your photos are wonderful. I regret not visiting Edison's home and laboratory in New Jersey when I lived in NYC. I never knew he had a winter home and lab in Fort Meyers, FL.

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  47. Looks like a fantastic place to see. Blessings, Debbie

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I enjoy reading each and every comment. I appreciate your taking the time to visit my blog and I hope you'll return again soon.
Sam