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Edison & Ford Winter Estates Blog

Archive for October, 2009

Edison & Ford Winter Estates Programs – November 2009

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On October 23rd

November at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates is highlighted with the return of the Estates Edison Garden Market and Creative Cottage as well as a variety of other special programs throughout the month of November.  The November schedule of programs and events include:

  • FREE Admission to Veterans and their Families, November 11

The Estates is offering free admission to United States Veterans and their families on November 11th.  Free admission includes a tour of the historic homes, botanical gardens, the Estates Museum and the Edison Research Lab.  Veterans must present a VA identification card or their DD214 papers to receive free admission. 

  • Edison Ford Winter Estates Foundation 9th Annual Foundation Gala, November 6

The Edison & Ford Winter Estates and Sam Galloway, Jr., President of the Edison Ford Winter Estates Foundation are celebrating “Moments in Black & White.”  The Gala features a reception and private dinner on the grounds of the Ford Estate including live entertainment, silent and live auctions featuring items that represent a “piece of the past and treasures of today”.  Limited seating!  For more information contact the Edison Ford Winter Estates Foundation office at 239-274-2377.  The Edison Ford Winter Estates Foundation provides preservation and restoration support to the Edison & Ford Winter Estates, Inc.    

  • New Volunteer OrientationNovember 10, 10 AM

Join Estates staff to learn about volunteer opportunities, Estates policies and general Museum information.  This is a mandatory training for all new Estates volunteers but potential volunteers are welcome.

  • Docent Training, November 19, 9 AM

New Estates volunteers who are interested in becoming Edison & Ford porch, Lab and Museum docents, or leading a group tour of the Estates grounds must attend this mandatory meeting.

  • Home School:  “Rocks, Minerals & Thomas Edison,” November 20, 1 PM – 3 PM

 Home schooled students and their parents can enroll in a half day of curriculum that follows the Florida Sunshine objectives for learning.  Home schoolers will learn about minerals and rocks including what Edison did with iron ore and Edison’s own concrete mixture.  The program follows the Lee County mandated program and addresses environmental science, history and reading SOLS.  Pre-visit curriculum materials will be mailed to registered families.  Registration required. Estates members $5; non members $15 (one adult, one child) additional $5 per child. 

  • Estates Closed Thanksgiving Day, November 26, Open Friday, November 27
  • Estates “Creative Cottage” Opens, November 27 – mid January

The seasonal Creative Cottage is back again in the historic Edison Caretaker’s House with a wonderful group of local artists, authors, craftspeople and chefs.  The “Creative Cottage” will be open 10 AM – 5 PM daily until December 11.  During the Estates Holiday event, “Edison & Ford Holiday Nights” hours will be extended to 9 PM.  Estates Members are FREE; a “shoppers pass” may be issued at the main ticket office to visit the “Creative Cottage”. Call 239-334-7419 for additional information. 

creative cottage local art

  • Edison Garden Market, November 27, noon – 5 PM; November 28,  9 AM – 5 PM; November 29, 9 AM – 3 PM

The Edison Garden Market attracts plant vendors from throughout the state to sell unique plants, orchids, herbs, trees and garden merchandise.  The event also includes workshops, food sales, music and other activities.  The Market is a great event for family and friends on Thanksgiving weekend. The event is FREE to the public.

edison garden market

  • Edison & Ford Holiday Nights, Holiday Party, December 10, 6 PM                                               

Kick off the holiday season with the first annual holiday party at the gloriously decorated homes and gardens of the Estates.  Guests will enjoy a special preview of the Estates annual event, food and beverages by the river, live music and much more.  Estates members, $50; non members $60.  To RSVP call 239-334-7419.

  • Edison & Ford Holiday Nights, December 11 – January 2, 5:30 PM – 9 PM

The Estates holiday tradition continues with “Edison & Ford Holiday Nights,” southwest Florida’s 34 year annual event.  The winter homes of the Edison and Ford families will be seasonally decorated with the “favorite things” of the Edison and Ford families.  The Edison Botanic Lab and Estates Museum will be open every evening with special exhibits as well as nightly holiday performances by area students and groups.  Special discount nights available to Lee County Residents opening weekend (December 11 &12).  Group rates are available to groups of 20 or more people with advance reservations.  For more information call 239-334-7419.

antique quilts modern quilts clothesline quiltshow

The Edison & Ford Winter Estates and the Southwest Florida Quilter’s Guild will be “airing quilts” on clotheslines on Saturday, October 31. There will be more than 40 quilts on display on clotheslines throughout the palm alleé at the Edison Estate as well as ‘airing’ on the friendship gate between the Edison and Ford homes.  Antique quilts belonging to Guild members will be on display on the Edison porches.  The special show will be from 10 AM until 2 PM.  A separate ticket price is available for $5 and is free to Estates Members and members of the Southwest Florida Quilters’ Guild.

To add to the nostalgia of the Estates outdoor quilt show, there will be antique cars on display and live period music performed.

An airing or display of the quilts was an ordinary part of life a century ago when blankets and textiles were moved out of doors to air and freshen up before the cold winter months ensued.  The Estates has been fortunate to not only assemble a small collection of historic quilts but also to engage the members of the Southwest Florida Quilter’s Guild who will join in by airing and exhibiting their collection of handmade contemporary, traditional and historical quilts.  Members of the Guild as well as curatorial staff will be on hand to discuss techniques and care.  The book, Quilts From The Henry Ford by Fons and Porter, will be available for sale.

The basis for the quilt exhibit at the Estates follows the interest of the Ford family in the early 1900’s as they collected quilts and other historical objects.  In fact, their interest grew so large that they created Greenfield Village in Dearborn Michigan, a museum complex established in 1929.    The collection extended from household objects and crafts to many important American buildings, among them the original Edison Research Laboratory from the grounds of the Edison Estate in Fort Myers.

Henry Ford and his wife, Clara, collected, celebrated and displayed what industry created but also what ordinary folks had designed, produced and used during the previous two centuries.  In their efforts they created a museum complex on a massive scale.  Along with the wagons, buildings, machines and other examples of American life, they included quilts.  There was little question that quilts, often assembled from modest fabric scraps epitomized the resourcefulness of American women that the Fords so admired. 

In the event of rain, the one day exhibit will be postponed to a later date. 

The Estates is open daily from 9:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.  The Estates was awarded the National Trust for Historic Preservation Award in 2008 and is an official project of “Save America’s Treasures” at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a Florida Historic Landmark and a National Register Historic Site.  For additional information call 239-334-7419 or visit the web site at www.efwefla.org.

by Rebecca Jones, Estates Collections Information Specialist

Southwest Florida is home to the winter estates of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. Best known for his work with electricity and the light bulb, Edison also created early Christmas lights. The Edison & Ford Winter Estates is celebrating Edison’s concept in a different way with a different look this December. In fact, local residents will remember seeing lights of many colors in years past on the Estates grounds. And looking even further back, Thomas and Mina Edison would have used multi-colored lights to decorate for the holidays in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

More than 120 years ago, Thomas Edison created the very first strand of electric light bulbs for use as a Christmas decoration. During Christmas 1880, he strung these strands around his Menlo Park complex in New Jersey, including on the outside of his famous laboratory. Those who passed by via a nearby railroad would have had the privilege of glimpsing the first holiday electric light display.

In 1882 Edward Johnston, Edison’s friend and partner in the Edison Illuminating Company, put together the first strand of electric Christmas tree lights by hand. He wired eighty red, white, and blue bulbs together, and strung them around his Christmas tree at his home in New York City. Interestingly, the tree was not only lighted; Johnson also rigged it to revolve.

In 1894 President Grover Cleveland displayed the first electrically lighted White House Christmas tree, which was lit with numerous small multi-colored lights. The first White House Christmas tree received a lot of press and helped spur the popularity of Christmas trees in private homes.

However, electricity was still expensive and only in minimal usage in private homes at the turn of the century. Businesses took the next step in promoting the use of Christmas lights. In the late nineteenth century, businesses began using Christmas lights in window displays. At this time, the services of a “wireman” (similar to our modern-day electrician) were necessary to wire the lights to an existing outlet.

Because electricity was both expensive and mistrusted, it took another ten years for Christmas lights to become popular in the home. In 1903, General Electric offered kits of electric Christmas lights to the public for the first time. These lights included miniature base GE/Edison carbon filament lamps. The kits included blue, green, red, and white bulbs.

In 1919, General Electric first introduced the cone shaped Christmas light, which became the industry standard until the 1970s. The Edisons would have used these popular lights to decorate their homes for the holidays.

In 1927 General Electric and the associated Edison Electric distribution companies began to sponsor neighborhood “decorating with color-light” contests as a marketing tool. This strategy was quite successful. By the end of the 1920s communities all over the United States began to hold decorating competitions featuring multi-colored lights. You can imagine the Edison and Ford Estates and the surrounding neighborhood homes brightly lit with multi-colored Christmas lights during this time.

This year, historic McGregor Boulevard Royal Palms will be decorated with colorful holiday lights. The two Estates will include colored lights and historic decorations as well as some high tech lighting examples that Edison would have enjoyed, such as new LED versions and laser projections in the trees.

Edison & Ford Holiday Nights will be held from December 11 – January 2, 5:30 PM – 9 PM, closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  Tickets are $15 adult, $1 for children 6 – 12 years, $8 for students (13 – College – with College ID). Group reservations and prices are available with advance scheduling by calling 239-334-7419

The Estates is open daily from 9:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.  The Estates was awarded the National Trust for Historic Preservation Award in 2008 and is an official project of “Save America’s Treasures” at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a Florida Historic Landmark and a National Register Historic Site.  For additional information call 239-334-7419 or visit the web site at www.efwefla.org.

Edison & Ford Winter Estates Installs Holiday Lights This Week

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On October 15th

Beginning this week, crews from the City of Fort Myers will begin installing the lights in front of the Edison & Ford Winter Estates for the Estates annual holiday event, Edison & Ford Holiday Nights, that includes thousands of lights in the historic Royal Palm trees along McGregor Boulevard.  Work is expected to continue all week.

The Edison & Ford Holiday Nights lights will come on beginning December 10, 2009 and continue through January 2, 2010 every night as the historic property celebrates its 34th annual holiday event.  This year, there is a new spin – the lights will be brilliantly colored which was the fashion and original design of the 1920’s.  The Estates has also added areas with projected laser light star fields (Edison would have enjoyed this contemporary spin!).

Edison & Ford Holiday Nights will be held from December 11 – January 2, 5:30 PM – 9:00 PM (closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day).  Admission to the event:  Estates members FREE; non members:  $15 adults, $1 children.  A special Holiday Party to kick of the season will be held on December 10, 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM, Estates Members $50; non members $60.  Call the Estates at 239 -334-7419 or visit the website: www.efwefla.org for information on Edison & Ford Holiday Nights or how to become a Member of the Estates to participate in programs and tours year-round. 

The Estates is open daily from 9:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.  The Estates was awarded the National Trust for Historic Preservation Award in 2008 and is an official project of “Save America’s Treasures” at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a Florida Historic Landmark and a National Register Historic Site.  For additional information call 239-334-7419 or visit the web site at www.efwefla.org.