Take advantage of the experience and knowledge of the estate’s curators through the estate’s app. Not only do you get a professional audio tour, you can also access historic photos and fun facts about the property.
Within the seven air-conditioned galleries, find glass cases that house Edison’s inventions and several of Ford’s cars. Photographs of the men and many of the famous people they knew line the museum walls and videos are available for those who want to sit and view them. Whether you want to wander at your leisure or opt for a guided tour, the extensive collection of memorabilia and photographs is impressive.
Started in 1885, the The Edison & Ford homes are registered historic homes and include Edison’s main and guest houses, Edison’s caretaker’s house, the pool and tea houses, the Ford house, and Ford’s caretaker’s cottage. Many original furnishings fill the homes, including those deeded to the City of Fort Myers in 1947.
One of the first things you’ll see at the estate is the giant Banyan tree brought to the property in the 1920’s. Although not the tallest of trees, Banyans can occupy a tremendous amount of space as they drop seeds and spread. The largest of these trees is in India, but the Edison Banyan tree is one of the largest in the U.S. Other trees throughout the garden include more than 60 species of palms, a variety of tropical fruit trees, and cycads.
The tropical climate allows for the cultivation of over 1700 different plants on the estate. Many plants have been imported from other countries and climates. Most recently, a succulent garden has been added to the estate. If you’re looking for something special to plant in your own garden, or you need a little gardening advice from an expert team of horticulturists, check out the Edison Garden Shoppe. Admission to the shop is free.
Edison and Ford partnered with Harvey Firestone to create a laboratory on the property for the Edison Botanic Research Corporation (EBRC). Their original intent was to experiment with rubber plants in an attempt to produce a domestic source of rubber in case supplies were disrupted during the First World War. Today, the lab contains much of the equipment used in their efforts.
The estates offer both guided and self-guided tours. Expect guided tours of the grounds to last an hour and give yourself additional time to tour the lab and museum as these are not included in the tour. You may also want to spend more time in the garden, Garden Shoppe, and/or museum gift shop.
Be sure to take a look at the Edison and Ford Winter Estates calendar. The site hosts events throughout the year including etiquette classes, film festivals, art exhibits, and more. Seasonal attractions like the Edison and Ford Holiday Nights during the Christmas season are also popular. Car lovers may also look into automotive tours, car shows, and other related special events.
Membership confers special privileges and discounts as shown in detail on their website. Reciprocal privileges are extended through Time Travelers, NARM, and the American Horticultural Society. Visiting their websites will specify the gardens, museums, and attractions that participate in reciprocity with the Edison and Ford Estates. Ask about military and AAA discounts.
We hope you find this helpful in preparing for your visit to the Edison and Ford Estates in Fort Myers, Florida.