Edison & Ford Winter Estates Blog - Edison & Ford Winter Estates Blog

Edison & Ford Winter Estates Blog

Edison & Ford Winter Estates Blog

Archive for July, 2016

Come See What’s NEW in the Edison Ford Museum

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On July 25, 2016

museum leaf rubbing stationOur Curatorial staff has just finished putting the final touches on the latest gallery, or room within the Edison Ford Museum to receive remodeling and updating – The Music and Movies Gallery.

These renovations and additions are made not only to improve the quality of our guests visits, but also to improve accessibility for all visitors, so they can clearly see and comprehend the items and signage within the displays. The displays also contain pertinent reference information so that guests may conduct further research on-line and locate relevant books and other materials available for purchase at our retail stores.

New and updated exhibits are always designed and developed with a few key points in mind: the enjoyment and entertainment of our members and guests, as well as the accurate interpretation of historical information. For the Music and Movie Gallery, this meant redesigning our display of one of Thomas Edison’s most popular inventions, the phonograph! Our Edison Ford curatorial department determined the best way to illustrate how the phonograph was invented; detailing the parts and technology used while clearly showing the construction.

phonograph gallery displayWhat they’ve come up with is sure to impress! During your next visit to the Edison Ford Museum, you’ll find what appears to be a phonograph’s insides pulled apart and suspended in midair to provide a view of the parts from the front and side views. This allows your imagination to visualize how it all fits together inside its magical music-making box.

As you can see from the photo, after the new phonograph display plans were created, a prototype was constructed in order to be sure the idea would serve its educational and informational purpose, remain sturdy and safe for public display, and be constructed of materials ensuring it will be functional and last for many years of viewing pleasure. All of the text that is used to explain each display goes through rigorous fact-checking and editing, ensuring that it is not only error-free, but also easily readable by all visitors.

hands on exhibitNew rubber flooring will also be installed in our Orientation Gallery that will match the flooring in the back hall of the museum. With the new floor, this area will be useable for events and meetings.

So be sure to come see the Edison Ford Museum and all the updates we are making. And, don’t miss the NEW Music and Movies Gallery, where you can learn all about how the phonograph was made!

ford and edison back wall museum


River Pavilion Project Underway at Edison Ford

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On July 23, 2016

The long awaited project to build a contemporary replica of the original Edison River Pavilion in the Coconut Grove is finally underway. The construction contractor is Casey Construction (they recently built the very successful new Museum West Porch) and the architect is Wiley Parker (Wiley is now consulting with us after his retirement from Parker/Mudgett/Smith Architects and this project has been in design ready for many years … so it’s also a dream of his).

With summer storms, it is expected to be completed sometime in early fall 2016 and just in time to resume Edison Ford Rhythm on the River, the monthly music series every first Friday of the month. This time though, the new 30 x 40 foot pavilion will provide the stage for music and other programs.

Pinchers Restaurant next door at The Marina at Edison Ford is helping to sponsor the project and will also be offering beverages and dinner appetizers in the Coconut Grove.

During construction, the river pathway to The Marina at Edison Ford will remain open for access to Pinchers and the river cruise program at The Marina at Edison Ford. Visitors and Members are invited to watch the progress throughout the summer as construction and additional coconut trees are planted.

pavilion project july 2016


Coconut Grove History Note:

The area known as the Coconut Grove was actually a “fill project” added by the City of Fort Myers in the early 1950’s. Before that time, it was only the original Edison Limestone Seawall that protected the property from storms and the encroachment of the river tides. The fill dirt was brought in from another project on Poinciana Avenue and added to this location to protect the historic property.

Over the years, coconut trees, tall bamboo, and plumeria were added and most recently the lawn and pathway were developed. It was determined that this location was a very good one to recreate the original Edison River Pavilion rather than the river (to avoid continued destruction of the building, and protect the endangered sawfish, manatees, and plant life that have now established themselves in the Edison Ford Cove).

Great solution and our thanks to FEMA, Corps of Engineers, and various environmental agencies for this solution!

NEW Rainy Day Options at Edison Ford

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On July 21, 2016

lightningSummer is here and with it comes unpredictable weather. In the event of a closure on the riverside of the property due to lightning in the area, visitors will be offered two new program options beginning in July:

• “Virtual” Estates Tour and Lecture – $5 upgrade 
An expert Site Historian will present an engaging lecture on the history of the property, accompanied by a special presentation of historic and modern photographs. This “virtual” tour of the homes and gardens will take place in the new theater area of the museum and includes each stop on the Complete Estates Audio Tour. Duration: Approximately 45 minutes.

• Inside the Lab Tour – $10 upgrade
Visitors will have a unique opportunity to enter the Edison Botanic Research Corporation Laboratory and tour “behind the scenes,” walking in the footsteps of Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Harvey Firestone! An expert historian will guide a small group through the structure, discussing the international importance of this laboratory and the ground-breaking research that occurred here. Duration: Approximately 45 minutes.

A Garden Legacy Celebrated

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On July 20, 2016
Helen Johnson Hendry has left her footprint and lasting legacy at Edison Ford.

helen hendry july 2016Our venerable Trustee and pioneer Landscape Architect passed away in June 2016 at the age of 85 years. Helen was the #3 licensed Landscape Architect in Florida and consultant to Mina Edison, a part owner of the historic Everglades Nursery, and a working member of the staff and consultant team to restore and conserve the historic gardens at Edison Ford. Her father-in-law, James Hendry (who acquired plants for Thomas Edison including the fabled bougainvillea and royal palms) named the Helen Johnson Bougainvillea after her because she “had no thorns.”

As a Trustee of Edison Ford, Helen regularly walked the gardens with staff, pointing out historical tidbits and plant science. She worked on the long range plan for garden restoration and conservation and was a tireless plant scientist and designer. Needless to say, she will be missed, but her legacy will live on.

We have created our first scholarship fund in honor of Helen with the establishment of the Helen Johnson Hendry Horticulture Intern Scholarship. This will help provide paid internships for college students working at Edison Ford and involved in academic work in horticulture, botany, plant science and landscape architecture. To learn how to contribute to this important project, please contact Nancy Achter, Development Manager/Executive Assistant at 239-334-7419 or

During the Summer of 2017 there will be an exhibit of Helen’s work in the Edison Caretaker’s House.

July Great Book Picks in all our Edison Ford Stores

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On July 18, 2016

book time for kids henry fordTime for Kids: Henry Ford – by Dina El Nabli and the Editors of Time for Kids
As a young boy, Henry Ford was fascinated by technology and how objects worked. His childhood interests led him to leave the Ford family farm in Michigan in search of a career with machinery, and the rest is automotive and economic history. With large text, wonderful photos, and interactive inserts, Time for Kids: Henry Ford is sure to be a great summer read for kids ages 7 – 9.

book faces of henry fordFaces of Henry Ford – by Robert Kreipke
This 12×9 hardbound book is the pictorial history of Henry Ford written by the Ford Motor Company Historian, Robert Kreipke. Through fascinating historic photographs and informative captions, this book tells the amazing story of Henry Ford’s life from his childhood in Dearborn, Michigan to the indelible mark he left on the world. Be sure to pick up this book just in time for Henry Ford’s 153rd birthday on July 30th.

book culinary history of floridaA Culinary History of Florida – by Joy Sheffield Harris.
Florida has both a fascinating history and a wonderfully diverse culinary tradition. Author Joy Harris has brought these two pieces together in this superbly written book. A Culinary History of Florida combines recipes, photographs, archaeology, and anthropology all in one to explore the rich heritage of Florida. Whether you are a Florida native or simply a fan of good old southern cooking, be sure to give this book a try.

These books are available for purchase in our Museum Store or in our online store.

Edison Ford Museum – Past, Present, and Future

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On July 16, 2016

museum past and presentA Museum celebrating Thomas Edison’s life, work and interests was a dream of Mina Edison even before she donated the Edison Estate to the City of Fort Myers on February 19, 1947. In fact, she had created the museum plan to include inventions, exhibits of science, and natural history, and a library for their interests in science and the arts.

museum layout

Click for enlarged view

By early 1960, this plan began to take shape with the creation of the first main room of The Edison Museum. It was built directly behind Thomas Edison’s workshop and garage (today this is the Museum Store). Today, this area is dedicated to inventions of both Edison and Ford and exhibits related to their work and the site.

By 1970, the second addition to the Museum was built as the collection of both original artifacts and inventions was supplemented with other related objects. Today, this area houses the Into the Wild (camping) exhibit, an exhibit from the Smithsonian, the children’s exhibit room, the Family & Friends exhibit, and the Music & Movies gallery.

By 1985, more space was needed and so the final large wing was added. Today, this houses the gallery for special exhibits, a film and lecture hall, and the exhibit dedicated to the rubber research.

When the non-profit organization, Edison & Ford Winter Estates, assumed responsibility for the site in 2006, the Museum was in the schedule for development and growth. After all of the restoration of the historic buildings and gardens was completed, that $14 million overall project culminated with the restoration of the Edison Botanic Research Laboratory in 2010. All 12 historic buildings have been restored as well as the gardens. So now our focus will be to bring the Edison Ford Museum up to the same level of excellence but use contemporary materials.

With the help from donors like Sally Johnson, GE, and others, the Museum work has been started. This summer, the initial area of the original museum will receive updated exhibits and new rubber flooring. Similar to the flooring already in use in the rubber exhibit, it ties in perfectly to the rubber research conducted on the site by Edison, Ford and Firestone. Work will be phased so that the Museum can remain open and continue throughout the summer months.

Please refer to the graphics and diagrams on this page, but better yet, come back throughout the summer months to check on our progress.

Petting Zoo at Edison Ford

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On July 12, 2016

● July 31, August 28, September 25, October 30 – 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.

petting zoo july 2016We have moved the Petting Zoo to the Heritage Gardens at the Garden Shoppe for shade from the trees and the cool porch with running fans. There will be a ticket required which can be purchased at the main ticket office. You can park in the main parking lot off of McGregor Boulevard or the new parking areas on Larchmont Avenue. Cost: Adults free; Children entering the petting zoo gate will be $1.00 per child.

Call Leeanne Criswell, Edison Ford Program Registrar for more information at 239-334-7419.

Happy Birthday Henry Ford – Come Celebrate on July 30, 2016

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On July 9, 2016

ford portraitThe public is invited to celebrate Henry Ford’s 153rd birthday at Edison Ford. Birthday cake will be served on the museum west porch at 10:00 a.m. (until it runs out!). Special “behind the scenes” tours of “The Mangoes,” Ford’s winter estate home, will be offered at 11:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., and 1:00 p.m.

Henry Ford and his wife Clara purchased their winter retreat in Fort Myers, right next to the winter home of their friends ford home eveningThomas and Mina Edison in 1916. The purchase price was $20,000 for about three acres of riverfront gardens with a lovely Craftsman-style bungalow.

The Ford family spent many winters in Fort Myers with mentor and friend, Thomas Edison. Their adjacent Florida estates provided great getaways for the friends to relax, explore Florida, and of course, talk business and innovation.

In honor of Ford’s birthday, active and retired Ford Motor Company employees will receive free admission, including a self-guided audio tour of the historic homes, gardens, lab, and museum. This will also include a “behind the scenes” tour of Ford’s home.

Cost: $20 general admission and includes a Behind the Scenes tour of Ford’s home.


Edison Ford Volunteer Meeting and Lecture – Hurricane Season

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On July 8, 2016

● July 12, 10:00 a.m. – Hurricane Preparedness – Lecture Hall in South Florida Water Management Building
Do you know how to get ready for a hurricane? Get tips on how to prepare and respond
during emergency storm conditions from a professional, WINK TV News Meteorologist, Mary Mays. Mary will answer your questions about what items you might want to invest in before a storm and even what to do after a storm has passed. Whether you are new to the area or a longtime resident, it is a great way to become informed, make a plan, and put your mind at ease.

WINK Hurricane Guides will be distributed at the meeting with tips and advice.

Volunteer meetings are open to current and potential volunteers. For more information on how to become a volunteer, contact Holly Shaffer or Bobby Feldman, Volunteer Coordinators at 239-334-7419, or visit us on the Web.

wink july 2016

Visiting Phonograph Expert to Present at the Edison Ford Museum

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On July 6, 2016

All NEW – Ediphone Science

● July 8 – July 22; August 5 – September 2
john kurdylaPhonograph expert John Kurdyla will present special programs on the phonograph. A resident of Padua, Italy, Mr. Kurdyla’s expertise and engaging demonstrations have been a favorite of Edison Ford visitors for several years.

Edison Ford curators will also demonstrate the Edison Ediphone business machines, record “dictation”, and listen to old recordings. These special presentations will be given on Tuesdays and Fridays at 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. in the “Music & Movies” gallery of the museum. FREE with admission.