Friday, January 29, 2016

Greetings from Fort Myers, Florida, the City of Palms

Greetings from Fort Myers, Florida, the City of Palms. Because I haven’t written a post for a while I wanted to check in and say hello. I miss all of you so very much and want to thank those that have written to check on me and to ask how I’m doing. Thank you. Your friendship is one of the greatest pleasures of blogging.

Believe it or not, we’re still in the midst of settling in. Don’t let anyone tell you that merging two completely furnished houses into one is easy – far from it. I still have numerous boxes in the garage yet to be unpacked, including my vast collection of cookbooks (there are no bookshelves in this house – yet, but hopefully we’ll have some soon). To further complicate things, we are planning to rip out and replace our original mid-seventies kitchen and laundry room this spring or early summer and replace them with an up-to-date kitchen and turn the laundry into a butler’s pantry & bar that will include more storage for china & glass. For those of you that have been through this kind of “tear out and replace everything” experience, I know that you’ll understand how busy we’ve been working with various kitchen designers, plumbers, electricians and contractors to find the ones that are right for our job and budget.

We are enjoying Fort Myers very much. Our home is in Whiskey Creek, an older, established neighborhood off of McGregor Boulevard that includes a golf course and country club. It is very convenient to shopping and nice restaurants. McGregor Boulevard is one of the main arteries in the city from downtown, running alongside the Caloosahatchee River, and is often referred to as the “Grand Dame of Fort Myers.” It is also the route to Sanibel and Captiva Islands and Fort Myers Beach. McGregor Boulevard is lined on both side of the street with lovely old royal palm trees. Because Thomas Edison had a deep respect for nature, he was determined to beautify the Fort Myers area, so he imported and planted the royal palms lining McGregor Boulevard and those palms are how the “City of Palms” nickname came about.

Thomas Edison ("Seminole Lodge") and Henry Ford’s winter home (“The Mangos”) are located side by side on McGregor Boulevard on the banks of the Caloosahatchee River. Long time readers of My Carolina Kitchen will remember my post several years ago that featured Seminole Lodge, Edison’s home, link here. Both the Edison & Ford’s home, including Edison’s laboratory, are open to the public and a do-not-miss when visiting the area. Edison and Ford, along with Henry Firestone, who also had a home here, were generally considered the three leaders in American industry at the time, and often worked and vacationed together.

Thomas Edison's Estate

I’ve long been fascinated with history and more precisely, what role women played in history. Recently I discovered that there 2 women who are responsible for the gorgeous palms that line McGregor Boulevard.

One was Mina Edison, Thomas Edison’s wife. Thomas Edison donated the royal palms along the boulevard from downtown to their estate, but after Edison’s death it was Mina’s efforts that continued the beautiful stately palms that line McGregor Boulevard from the Edison estate to Whiskey Creek, about 3 miles south, where our home is located. Mina Edison had been around famous people all of her life. She gracefully entertained many famous guests such as Presidents Hoover and Wilson, the kings of Sweden & Siam, educator “Black Jack” Pershing and Helen Keller, industrialists Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone and George Eastman. Other guests included Orville Wright, Charles Lindbergh and famed musical artists of the time that Edison had recorded on his phonograph records.

The other is Tootie McGregor, wife of Aston McGregor, a prominent Fort Myers pioneer who became the President of Standard Oil and for whom McGregor Boulevard is named. At Aston McGregor’s death his fortune was estimated at 12 million dollars in today’s economy. Not many people can say they made the world a bit more beautiful, but that’s exactly the legacy of Tootie McGregor. Tootie is considered one of Fort Myer’s founding mothers and is credited for converting Riverside Road, now McGregor Boulevard, from a dirt cattle trail to the elegant tree-lined McGregor Boulevard of today. It was Tootie who continued the Edison's elegant palms from Whiskey Creek all the way to Punta Rassa. Punta Rassa was named by the Spanish Conquistadors in the mid-16th century that unloaded cattle in the area. It was a thriving cattle shipping town in the 1800’s, where cattle would be loaded at the port on ships destined for Cuba. It was one of the home bases for Jake Summerlin, who was one of the wealthiest cattle barons in Florida by the time he reached age 40 and believed to be the first child born in Florida after the land was ceded by Spain. Today the palm lined McGregor Boulevard stretches 14 miles from downtown to Punta Rassa. Punta Rassa fell on hard times and most people today know it to be nothing more than a quaint section on Summerlin Road that links Sanibel Island with the great Fort Myers area.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the history McGregor Boulevard and how Fort Myers became the “City of Palms.” Of course the Edison’s and McGregor’s contributed much much more to Fort Myers that I’ve covered today, but we drive along McGregor Boulevard almost every day and I always think of Mina Edison and Tootie McGregor when I see the magnificent palms that grace the old boulevard.

To close with a bit of trivia, with almost 1100 patents to his credit, Thomas Edison has been dubbed “America’s prolific inventor.”  We all know his achievements include the electric light bulb, phonograph, movie camera & projector and the ticker tape machine. However, you might not know some of his lesser known inventions - wax paper, tin foil and mucilage, the “sticky stuff” that is affixed to postage stamps, envelopes, and labels.

For better viewing, click photos to enlarge. 

Have a nice weekend everyone and thanks for stopping by My Carolina Kitchen.


  1. What a beautiful and peaceful place! Happy to hear that you are doing well.



  2. Good Morning Sam, Oh what a delightful place. To drive along McGregor Boulevard everyday must be a real treat.... and with so much history.
    Moving is always difficult. I do understand because I have moved numerous times from country to country. Some houses were large and some houses were small, so we had to be ruthless with which of our possessions to keep and which to sell or give away... which is always difficult.
    You really don't need my advice as you sound very experienced yourself. I would just say give yourself time and everything will fall into place.
    Enjoy your new life. I feel you have chosen a wonderful place to live.
    Best Wishes

  3. Great to "hear" from you, and I had no idea Fort Myers was so beautiful! Love the palm trees, and I've been to Florida many times, but not that area.. "old" florida to me is the most beautiful. Will do more research on the area! Thanks for sharing...

  4. I have been through one kitchen renovation and five moves (cross country ones) so I can commiserate! Those moves were paid for so I didn't worry too much about what we took. Our recent move has meant considerable downsizing into a smaller home. It has now been six months and I'm still purging!! As for my cookbooks? Hmmm, I can't seem to let go of any. Don't even get me started on the food magazines!! Nice to hear from you and learn more about your part of Florida.


  5. What a great little post filled with some history and photos of where you'll be living full time now. What a lovely area.

    Have fun with your kitchen remodeling. :-)


  6. Interesting history. So you're full-time Floridian now? Welcome!

  7. You and Meakin have picked a beautiful place to settle Sam. I can only imagine how much work is involved in merging two households. I am facing that now with selling our Florida house. I am hoping someone will buy it that wants a fully furnished home. LOL. I really enjoyed the history of your town.

  8. Fort Myers is beautiful!
    It's a nice life in Florida..
    no winter sea so close..
    so many wonderful developments .
    Thanks for letting us're a trooper Sam!

  9. Glad to see you had time to come up for air and post a little history about your pretty local. Good luck with your combining and now I'm off to find out what a butler's pantry might be.

  10. It looks a beautiful place, I envy you. As for merging two houses into one, I know only too well how difficult it is. A house in the UK and one in France, now all in France. Apart from everything else we have moved 8 times in the 33 years we have been married and 4 different countries, one country twice!! I still have boxes around that I really do need to unpack!! Have a great weekend Diane

  11. Really interesting history! As a resident of Silicon Valley I'm always curious to hear how the movers and shakers of previous generations lived.

  12. Happy to hear that you are making progress! I cannot imagine what it must be like to merge two homes, other than too much work! Having never spent much time in Florida, I appreciate the history... Take care...

  13. Sam, No more shuffling back and forth! Once you get the remodeling and reorganization done, your life will be much simpler. Warmth in the winter too! Our son went to High School in Ft. Myers and Laurie and I have toured the Ford & Edison properties. Very interesting indeed. Thanks for the history lesson too! Take Care, Big Daddy Dave & Laurie

  14. So happy to see you update the blog, Sam. What a beautiful city! You too have a great weekend!

  15. Even though I have toured the Edison estate you did a wonderful job relating interesting historical facts. It was nice to hear from you once again and be updated on your progress. Best wishes for a smooth transition.

  16. I graduated high school in fort myers and moved to Murphy NC. and Andrews then moved back to Fl. and living near Arcadia. Love your Blog and look forward to reading and seeing the beautiful pictures.
    Have made several of your receipts also.

  17. I was so happy to see you in our inbox and thrilled that you are doing well. What a gorgeous area and know it's going to be wonderful! Happy weekend!

  18. Love Ft. Meyers, Sam. What a great place to settle. I know what you're going through. I had lived in one place for 45 years and it was really difficult to sort through everything and move to a smaller place.
    And once again, I'm moving too...on Monday. Same town, but downsizing. Not a much sorting this time, but to an apartment rather than a house. Fortunately, the buyer wanted some of my furniture, which makes this easier.
    I'll probably be disconnected for a few days and have been posting some simple recipes lately, but like you, I'll be back soon.

  19. Oh my goodness! You are back to remodeling again? At least, you 've had your fair share of experience with that. Good luck with all the banging and sawdust. In the end, I look forward to seeing your new home. Congratulations, you two!

  20. It looks like you've settled into a beautiful community Sam, glad you're enjoying it:@)

  21. Its so nice to hear from you Sam and I loved the interesting story about your area. For all the years I lived in Florida, I was never in Ft. Meyers or Sanibel Island. I know how busy you've been since I just been in the same position and I still have unopened boxes too.

  22. Welcome back to blogging, Sam. I can see you are still enjoying life and are in a beautiful city. Thanks for the history. My great grandfather was an early pioneer of Florida back in 1845 and I love to read the history of that state.

  23. I hope you share your before and after pictures! This post brought back some great memories. I lived in Ft. Myers for a few years and my best friend, at the time, lived in Whiskey Creek!

  24. How beautiful! It makes me nostalgic for the Florida of my youth.

  25. Hi Sam
    I know what a lot of work moving is! I've heard such good things about Ft Meyers and I'm sure you will enjoy living there. New places to explore and enjoy! I never thought I'd be moving across the country three years ago but we are so glad we did. We helped our son and his family move to a larger house last week--just one town away form where he lived here in Colorado, but a newer and more modern neighborhood and more room for his growing family.

  26. What a beautiful post! I have family nearby but have never visited. I have always heard that Ft. Myers is gorgeous! I do love the history - for me that is the wonders of travel - one sees lovely sites but it seems every place has a story that is intertwined with our daily lives. Best of luck renovating. We have renovated our home over and over and I am at the point where I never want to move!

  27. So nice to hear from you Sam. And love the photos. I've never spent much time in Ft. Meyers ... too hurried to get to Sanibel and Captiva. :)

  28. Come on guys, you need to hurry up and invent a bunch of stuff or found a huge want to "fit in" with the neighbors, don't ya? ;) Congrats on the new house!


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