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Edison & Ford Winter Estates Blog

Edison & Ford Winter Estates Blog

Archive for August, 2011

Edison & Ford Winter Estates Antique Car at Page Field

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On August 26th

Media Release – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Chris Pendleton, President & CEO
Lisa Sbuttoni, PR/Marketing Director
293-334-7419
Photo attachments:  Mina Edison greets a Ford built airplane at Page Field formerly known as Fort Myers Airport (source:  Southwest Florida Historical Society); 1919 Ford Model T; 1937 Ford Coupe.

Edison & Ford Winter Estates Antique Car at
Page Field

FORT MYERS, FLA.(August 26, 2011)–
The Edison & Ford Winter Estates is exhibiting a 1919 Ford Model T at the newly completed general aviation terminal at Page Field in Fort Myers.  The 1919 Ford Model T will be on exhibit until October 2011 when it will be replaced by a 1937 Ford Coupe. Page Field has a rich history in the region and was used for both air travel and training.  Photo to the right is Mrs. Edison at Page Field.

In 1926 Thomas Edison inspected two planes at Page Field (then known as Fort Myers Airport) the Miss Tampa and Miss Miami.  Henry Ford made major contributions to aviation with The Ford Aircraft Division building passinger planes in 1929 that were known as the “Tin Goose” that consisited of three large air-cooled engines.  By the latter part of the 1920s Ford became the first private carrier to have domestic airmail flights and was the world’s largest producer of commercial airplanes.  Ford, with the help of Charles Lindbergh, helped usher in a new era for aviation travel as numbers grew from approximately 2,000 passengers in the mid 1920s to over 400,000 passengers by the early 1930s.  The Smithsonian Institute called Ford’s innovatoive concrete runways “Ford’s most important contribution to aviation.” Ford is in the National Aviation Hall of Fame in Dayton, Ohio.

T he 1919 Ford Model T on display at Page Field is a standard three-door touring model that sold for $525 and was powered by a 20 horsepower four-cylinder cast iron engine. It could r each a maximum speed of around 45 M.P.H. and had a ten gallon gas tank that averaged 14-21 miles per gallon.  Electric starters became an optional feature for the first time in 1919 and cost an extra $75 to install. As a result, Ford began producing instrument panels equipped with an ammeter and ignition switch.

In October the Estates will replace the Model T with a 1937 Ford Coupe which is more represtative of the history of activity at Page Filed.  The 1937 Ford Coupe was donated by Louis Furen Jr. to the Estates Museum in August 2004.  Considered a full size Ford automobile the 1937 two-door Coupe featured a 221 CID 3.6 L Flathead V-8 Engine with 85 HP (three speed manual).  Body style is the two-door Coupe and color is called Dearborn Blue.  Original cost would have been around $850.  The 1937 model consisted of a more rounded look, side hood grill, and had a distinctive V-shaped front grill that differed from its predecessors of the early 1930s. Headlights were built into the frame which also differed from its predecessors.   A sharp car that also featured a trunk.  Currently the car is under restoration by South Fort Myers High School Automotive students.

Visitors to the airport from around the world will enjoy and discover the importance of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford and their impact on southwest Florida.  Edison, considered one of the areas first tourists, arrived by boat to Punta Rassa in 1885.  He purchased property along the Caloosahatchee and built his winter residence, “Seminole Lodge” in Fort Myers.  Henry Ford purchased his home in 1916 and together they would explore Florida in Ford automobiles of course.

The Estates is open daily from 9:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. The Estates is the winner of the 2009 National Stewardship Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation 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.edisonfordwinterestates.org.

Recommended Reading from the Edison & Ford Winter Estates

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On August 26th

Want to find out more about the famous friendship of Thomas Edison & Henry Ford? Or perhaps you would like to explore the landscapes and architecture of historic Florida? Maybe you are interested in finding out more about local history or the fascinating story behind the Edison Botanic Research Laboratory? Consult our Recommended Reading List for our top book and DVD picks for readers of all ages and interests.

The Edisons in Fort Myers


Tom Smoot’s The Edisons of Fort Myers: Discoveries of the Heart (2004) is a page-turner that delves into the Fort Myers experiences of the Edisons.


The Florida Life of Thomas Edison
by Michele Albion (2008) provides essential insights into both Thomas Edison and turn of the century Fort Myers.


The Edison and Ford Winter Estates Guide (2006) provides a comprehensive overview of Edison’s Fort Myers retreat.


The Edison and Ford Quote Book (2004) is provides a great reference to the quotes of these historic friends.

Florida History


Cracker: The Cracker Culture in Florida History
(2006) by Dana Ste Claire blends history, folklore and anthropology to examine the Florida cracker.


A Land Remembered
by Patrick Smith (1996) is an award-winning historic novel set in the wilds of 19th century South Florida. A student edition is also available.


Michael Gannon’s A History of Florida in 40 Minutes or Less (2007) provides a fast-paced introduction to Florida history and includes a CD with accompanying audio content.

Thomas Edison


In Edison: Inventing the Century (2001), Neil Baldwin provides an authoritative, page-turning biography.


Paul Israel’s Edison: A Life of Invention (1998) is an extensively researched, critically lauded biographical work.


AC/DC: The Savage Tale of the First Standards War
(2006)
by Tom McNichol details the fascinating clash between alternating and direct current.


Edison’s Family & Friends Recipes
(2006) is a glimpse back in time to the recipes treasured by the Edisons.

Henry Ford


Stephen Watt’s The People’s Tycoon: Henry Ford and the American Century (2005) explores the life, legacy and cultural impact of Henry Ford.


To explore the Ford family in greater detail, try Richard Bak’s Henry and Edsel: The Creation of the Ford Empire (2003).


Clara: Mrs. Henry Ford
(2002) by Ford R. Bryan examines the life and times of Henry Ford’s staunchest supporter, whom he often called “The Believer”—his wife, Clara Ford.

Florida Homes & Gardens


University of Florida professor Ronald Haase appeals to both history and architecture enthusiasts with Classic Cracker: Florida’s Wood-Frame Vernacular Architecture (1992).


In Historic Homes of Florida (2003), Stewart & Hupp present a visually striking showcase of historic Florida residences.


Great Houses of Florida
(2008) by Dunlop & Lombard captures Florida’s most historic homes through insightful writing and stunning photography.


A renowned local favorite, Nehrling’s Early Florida Gardens (2001) is authoritative and comprehensive.

Rubber & Botanical Research


For the fascinating story of Edison, Ford, and Firestone’s domestic rubber research, watch The Wizard’s Laboratory: Edison’s Quest for Rubber in 1927 (DVD, 2008), produced by WGCU.


Greg Grandin details Ford’s strange but true endeavor to create a massive rubber plantation on the banks of the Amazon River in Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City (2010).


In Growing American Rubber: Strategic Plants and the Policies of National Security (2009), author Mark Finlay details the American quest to produce rubber, set in a global context, as well as the Florida connection.

Picks for Children


TIME magazine’s Thomas Edison: A Brilliant Inventor (2005) by Lisa Demauro is a great introduction to the inventor– written just for kids!


For TIME magazine’s take on the life of Henry Ford, read Henry Ford: Putting the World on Wheels by Dina Elnabi (2008).


Edison & The Light Bulb
(2007) by Scott R. Welvaert tells Edison’s story of perseverance and determination through the lens of a comic book!

Curator’s Pick for Conservation


For a behind the scenes glimpse into the world of museum preservation, Saving Stuff (2005) by the Smithsonian’s Don Williams details how antiques and other items are cared for.

 All of the above titles, as well as many others, are available in our Museum Stores and online!

 

September Events & Programs at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On August 23rd

Media Release – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Chris Pendleton, President & CEO
Lisa Sbuttoni, PR/Marketing Director
293-334-7419
Photo attachments: Homeschool classes begin at the Estates on September 16; Learn how to start your own organic vegetable garden at Estates Garden Talk on September 10

Edison & Ford Winter Estates Programs – September 2011

FORT MYERS, FL (August 21, 2011) – September at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates is highlighted with the return of Estates Homeschool Classes, continuation of Garden Talks,  a new monthly program for children (ages 1-3)  Emerging Inventors Early Learning Class, as well as a variety of  children and adult programs throughout the month.  The September schedule of programs and events include:

Estates open Labor Day, September 5, 2011, 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

NEW – Emerging Inventors Early Learning Class, September 1 and 15, 9 a.m. – 11 a.m.
The Estates newest education program series is a child and parent learning class for children ages 1 -3 years that includes immersion into the buildings, museum and gardens.  Each program is theme based combining early science, invention, story book reading and hands-on activities.  The Learning Class continues twice a month throughout the year.  Contact the Estates Education Department at (239) 334-7419 for more information.

September 1, “Pet parade– Thomas and Mina Edison loved animals.  During Edison’s time there were peacocks, cats and many birds on the property.  In this class children will explore pets using music.  Bring your favorite stuffed animal for the pet parade.  Cost:  Estates Members $5 , non members $15.  Registration is recommended.

September 15, “Row, row, row your boat” – Thomas Edison enjoyed taking guests on his electric launch for boat rides on the Caloosahatchee River.  In this class children will have fun playing with water, watch shapes grow in water and see water do amazing things with science.   Cost:  Estates Members $5 , non members $15.  Registration is recommended.

Garden Talk – How to start your own organic vegetable garden, September 10, 9 a.m.
Organic gardening is the oldest method of gardening and was practiced by Thomas Edison, who grew many vegetables at his Fort Myers estate to eat, sell and ship up north.  Estates horticulturists will teach the basics of organic gardening in southwest Florida including bed preparation, pest control, compost and planting from seeds.  Reservations not required. Estates Members are free, non members $5, all participants will receive a $5 gift certificate to be used in the Estates Garden Shoppe.

Estates Science Fair Workshop for Homeschoolers and Virtual Students, September 13, 10 a.m. – noon
The Estates will be hosting the 2nd annual Homeschool and Virtual Students Young Engineers, Scientists and Inventors Fair on October 25, 2011.  Homeschool and virtual students must enter to pre-qualify for the Thomas Alva Edison Kiwanis Science & Engineering Fair.  The Estates is offering workshops throughout the year to assist students with their science projects.  The workshops focus on choosing a science fair topic, conducting the experiment, documenting results and designing a science fair display board.  Cost:  $5.  Call the Estates Education Department at 239-334-7419 to register.

Homeschoolers:  Science Law and Order, September 16, 9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. OR 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.
Homeschooled students will learn how scientific laws are made, put laws and theories to the test, and understand scientific processes and how they lead to scientific discovery.  Students and their parents can enroll in a half day of curriculum that follows the Florida Sunshine Objectives for Learning.  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.   Program recommended for grades 1- 6.

Monthly Volunteer Meeting and New Volunteer Orientation, September 20, 9:30 a.m.
Join Estates volunteer staff and “Mr. and Mrs. Edison” as they present their trips to Edison’s Glenmont New Jersey home and the Chautauqua Institute (Mrs. Edison’s father was one of the founders).  This is a regular monthly volunteer meeting and mandatory training for all new Estates volunteers but potential volunteers are also welcome.

Quilting and Stitchery Demonstration, September 24, 10 AM – 1 PM
Quilters from the Southwest Florida Quilter’s Guild and members of the Southwest Embroidery Guild will demonstrate quilting and stitching and will be available to answer questions.  Items will be available for purchase.  The Quilters are preparing for the Estates Annual Clothesline Quilt Show on October 29, 2011, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.  Demonstration is FREE with purchase of Estates Complete Tour ticket.

Edison Garden Market vendor space available, November 19 & 20
The 4th annual Edison Garden Market has space available for plant growers, fruit producers, garden art and garden supply vendors.  The Edison Garden Market attracts nearly 1,000 gardeners and visitors looking for unique and historical garden items including flowering trees, tropical plants and fruits, bougainvillea, orchids, roses bromeliads, palms, cactus, herbs, bonsai, bamboo, fruit, ginger, butterfly plants as well as garden art, home and gardening supplies. For more information contact the Estates Garden Shoppe at 239-334-7419.

NEW German Language Tour, Wednesdays, 10:30 a.m.
For German speaking visitors, the Estates offers a German language tour led by an Estates Site Historian on Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m.  The tour includes the historic homes, gardens, and Edison Botanic Research Laboratory all presented in German. Groups can schedule a German Language tour, available throughout the week, by calling the Estates at 239-334-7419.

Behind the Scenes Tour, Thursdays, 10:30 a.m.
Visitors will enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour inside the Edison and Ford homes.  These unique tours are offered at no cost to Estates Members and $40 for non members.  Due to the intimate nature of Behind the Scene Tours space is limited and registration is required.

Estates Botanical Garden Tour Tuesday and Saturday mornings, 10 a.m.
The Estates Botanical Garden Tours will be offered on Tuesdays and Saturdays at 10 a.m. The tour includes a walk through the historical gardens, and a behind the scenes tour of the Estates Propagating Nursery led by Estates horticultural staff.  Cost for the tour is Estates members, FREE; non members, $24 for adults and $10 for children ages 6 -12.  Visitors may upgrade their ticket for $6 to include a self-guided audio wand tour of the historic buildings and Estates Museum.  Group botanical garden tours are available at a discounted price and may be scheduled throughout the week by calling 239-334-7419.

Edison Botanic Lab Update
The structural and exterior building phase of the restoration of the 1927 Edison Botanic Lab has been completed.  This total $850,000 project was funded through grants fromt eh 1772 Foundation, US HUD/EDI Grants, State of Florida Matching Grant, Edison Ford Winter Estates Foundation as well as the financial and staff resources of the Edison & Ford Winter Estates, Inc.  Work included structural and building engineering, new roof, replicated siding, restoration of the original windows, electrical upgrades, alarm systems and ADA compliance.  In the upcoming months, work will continue on interior work to the chemistry lab, machine shop, plant grinding room, darkroom, field office as well as the adjacent research beds and shade structure.  Visitors receive an update weekly in the Behind the Scenes Tours.  A dedication ceremony is planned for February 2012.

The Estates is open daily from 9:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. The Estates is the winner of the 2009 National Stewardship Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation 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.edisonfordwinterestates.org.

In the late 1920’s, the Edison Botanic Research Corporation (EBRC) was on a mission.  Botanical specimen collectors scoured the countryside searching for trees, vines, bushes, and botanical specimens of all types so that the EBRC lab could test the potential of each plant for rubber production.

Thomas Edison, Harvey Firestone and son Roger inspect the contents of a test tube in the EBRC lab | Edison & Ford Winter Estates Archives

Which plant would produce rubber most efficiently? Believe it or not, the specimen that showed the most promise was a common weed called goldenrod.

Through careful cultivation and experimentation, Thomas Edison was able to cultivate a type of Goldenrod (Solidago Edisonia) which grew up to 12 feet high, and can still be viewed in the EBRC lab today!

A 12 foot tall strand of goldenrod | Edison & Ford Winter Estates Archives

Did you know that big changes are currently underway in the EBRC lab? Find out more in Part III of the Edison Botanic Research Corporation series.

To learn more about cultivating plants in Florida, visit the Edison & Ford Winter Estates propagating gardens.

For more information about requesting a copy of these images or any other images from the Edison & Ford Winter Estates archives, click here.

Mrs. Edison’s Old Fashioned Recipe for Chocolate Caramels

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On August 18th

Old Fashioned Recipe for Chocolate Caramels

1 cup of milk
1 cup of molasses
1 small cup of butter (size of an egg)
2 cups of sugar
½ pound of chocolate
1 teaspoon of flour
2 teaspoons of vanilla

Combine milk, molasses and butter and let boil until butter completely melts, then add 2 cups white sugar, ½ pound of chocolate and a teaspoon of flour well mixed in a little water or milk.

Let it all boil for 30 minutes but after it has boiled 10 minutes, add 2 teaspoons full of vanilla – pour in flat buttered pan and cut in squares.

The Edisons’ recipes were written during their lifetime, therefore the directions, measurements and styles of the recipes reflect the period in which they lived and their personal tastes.  Because the recipes are original for the times, you will want to read them carefully and experiment liberally.  We know you will enjoy a look at heir lives as well as their scrumptious recipes.

Our collection of vintage recipes can be found in Edison’s Family & Friends Recipes which is available in the Edison & Ford Winter Estates Museum Store or online at http://www.edisonfordwinterestates.org/store/Edisons-Family-Friends-Recipes.html.

Estates Garden Shoppe Plant Sale

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On August 10th

Media Release – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Chris Pendleton, President & CEO
Lisa Sbuttoni, PR/Marketing Director
293-334-7419
Photo attachments:  Plants for sale at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates Garden Shoppe, Dwarf Poinciana and Yesterday Today Tomorrow

Estates Garden Shoppe Summer Plant Sale and Garden Talks
Edison & Ford Winter Estates

FORT MYERS, FLA (August 10, 2011) On Aug. 12 and 13, from 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., all garden items in the Edison & Ford Winter Estates Garden Shoppe will be 20% off. Plants, books, seeds, supplies and garden art as well as heritage plants propagated in the Estates nursery, annuals, herbs, fruit trees, butterfly plants, and landscape items will be on sale.

Estates horticulturists will be available throughout the day to answer questions on Florida gardening. Admission to the Estates Garden Shoppe is always free and parking is easy.

In addition to the summer plant sale, the Estates newest monthly garden series, “Garden Talks” will begin.  Estates horticultural staff will instruct participants on a variety of topics relating to gardening in southwest Florida.  On Aug. 13 at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. join Estates horticulturists to learn about “Unusual plants to add to your garden.”

The series will continue every second Saturday of the month at 1 p.m. The series is free to Estates members; $5 for non-members per session. All participants will receive a $5 gift certificate to be used in the Estates Garden Shoppe.

The Estates is open daily from 9:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. The Estates is the winner of the 2009 National Stewardship Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation 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.edisonfordwinterestates.org.

Phonograph Demonstration by John Kurdyla | Edison & Ford Winter Estates

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On August 10th

John Kurdyla, guest curator and phonograph collector, working with a replica of the 1927 Kruesi Phonograph at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers, FL. Without the invention of this device, there would be no sound in this movie.  Then again, without Thomas Edison, there would be no movie.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qNrvCv5z9Zo&w=425&h=349]

The Edison & Ford Winter Estates would like to thank John Paul Kurdyla Jr. for sharing his expertise and knowledge.

Origins | Edison Botanic Research Corporation & Lab Part I

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On August 9th

Did you know that Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, and Thomas Edison collaborated on a major research initiative?

Beginning in 1927, and with a research lab being built the following year, the Edison Botanic Research Corporation (EBRC) was created to find a domestic source for organic rubber.

EBRC founders Ford, Edison and Firestone sit on the front porch of the lab circa 1930 | Edison & Ford Winter Estates Archives

Why was organic rubber so important?
Having only recently emerged from the World War I, the three friends were only too aware of the volatile market fluctuations of the international rubber market. To secure a future source for rubber, the EBRC tested a variety of botanic specimens to determine their potential for rubber production.

Interior of the lab | Edison & Ford Winter Estates Archives

In typical Edison fashion, thousands of possible solutions were tested. Which produced the most rubber?  We’ll tell you all about it in Part II of the Edison Botanic Research Corporation series.

To learn more about Edison, Ford & Firestone’s quest for rubber, check out Growing American Rubber: Strategic Plants And The Politics Of National Security by Mark R. Finlay, available in the Edison & Ford Winter Estates gift shop.

For more information about requesting a copy of these images or any other images from the Edison & Ford Winter Estates archives, click here.

Smarts in Art | FINAL WEEK of Estates Inventors’ Summer Camp

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On August 3rd

This is the last week of Estates Inventors’ Summer Camp.  See what the kids are up to!

To learn more about the Education programs at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates, visit our website at http://www.edisonfordwinterestates.org/education/.