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Edison & Ford Winter Estates Blog

Edison & Ford Winter Estates Blog

Archive for the ‘Events Calendar’ Category

Henry Ford and His Soy Cookie Recipe

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On July 9, 2015

     Henry Ford’s birthday is July 30, 1863 so he will be 152 years old this year. At Edison Ford we celebrate the day with activities to include antique cars, lectures, tours inside his home, and of course, birthday cake for visitors and homemade cookies from the Ford family recipe for soybean cookies. The cookies are actually very tasty, healthy and a reminder that Henry Ford was an inventor, entrepreneur and a “healthy eater.”

     “Henry Ford and his staff researched a variety of soybean-based foodstuffs.

      Recipes in the book Recipes for Soybean Foods contain several of these food products. Notably, Ford was an early adopter of soy milk, which rose in popularity during the onset of World War II, in part thanks to the research of Ford staff and Henry Ford’s vocal support for the soybean. The Ford Motor Company sold breads baked using soy flour, as well as fresh soybeans, and many foods prepared for the guests of Greenfield Village (Clara and Henry Ford’s collection of historic American buildings) were likewise created using soy flour and other soybean-based foods.

      While some of these products were already produced on a small scale, Ford’s outspoken interest and research on the subject helped to popularize soybean-based foods in America.” – Mike Cosden, Edison Ford Chief Curator

Henry Ford's soybean cookie recipe

Henry Ford’s soybean cookie recipe

Edison Tarpon Conserved – Charles Edison Fund Grant

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On September 9, 2014

tarpon exhibit sept 2014

fishing with edison     After nearly 100 years, the fish collection of the Edison family is being conserved by taxidermists. The first three tarpon in the series are on display in the museum with replicas in fiberglass to be located on the porches as in the Edison era. The original fish collection was mounted using time-honored taxidermy techniques which included “stuffing” with sisal.

The Edison artifacts are being conserved by an annual grant from the Charles Edison Fund which was established after the death of Thomas and Mina Edison by their son Charles.



The Fords in Fort Myers

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On July 19, 2013

     Henry Ford is most noted as the father of the automobile. He was one of the greatest innovators and inventors of our time holding 161 US patents. He was also a filmmaker, who was the largest producer and distributor of films; an early pioneer in sustainability and “green science” methods; as well as a collector; accomplished dancer; and marketer whose business practices set the standard for advertising and marketing today.

      One of Ford’s longtime vacation retreats was in Fort Myers, Florida. By the time Henry and Clara Ford purchased their Florida winter estate in 1916, they were already good friends of Thomas and Mina Edison, who owned the neighboring estate.Edison with Fords on porch

      Ford had worked for the Edison Illuminating Company in Detroit, Michigan as an engineer. Ford had met Edison for the first time in 1896 at a professional convention in New York City, where he had the opportunity to share his invention of the quadricycle. Edison showed special interest in how an electric spark was used to explode the gas in the cylinder. According to Henry Ford, Edison banged his fist on the table and encouraged Ford by stating, “Young man, that’s the thing; you have it! Keep at it!”

      Ford and his family first visited the City of Fort Myers in 1914 at the invitation of Edison to go camping in the Florida Everglades. This camping trip would be the first of many between the men over the next decade. Ford returned to Fort Myers two years later after he purchased the estate which was right next door to Edison’s winter estate. The purchase price was $20,000 for just over three acres of riverfront gardens and lovely Craftsman style bungalow. Ford would spend many winters here with his mentor and friend as their adjacent Florida estates would provide great getaways for the friends to relax, explore Florida, and of course, talk business and innovation.

      After Edison’s death in 1931, Ford seldom came back to Fort Myers. He sold the estate in 1945 to a private owner. In 1947 Mrs. Edison deeded the Edison estate to the City of Fort Myers to be open to the public. By 1988, the Ford estate was purchased for $1.5 million and opened to the public in 1990.

Viva Florida 500 Time Capsule at Edison Ford for the Month of May

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On May 5, 2013

     The Lee County Viva Florida 500 Time Capsule will be on display in the Edison Caretaker’s House throughout the month of May along with Discovering Southwest Florida with Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, an exhibit featuring historic photographs and artifacts celebrating Southwest Florida’s history during the Edison Ford era.

Viva Florida time Capsule     

      The Lee County Library System in conjunction with the Florida Department of State has launched the SNAPSHOT Time Capsule project in honor of Viva Florida 500, a year-long commemoration of Florida’s 500th anniversary dating back to Ponce de Leon’s landing in Florida in 1513.

      The items chosen reflect Lee County’s unique community and represent what future generations should know about Lee County. The SNAPSHOT Time Capsule will travel around Lee County until September 2013.

Clara Ford Rose Garden to be Installed

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On April 29, 2013

     Clara Bryant Ford, the wife of Henry Ford for 59 years, loved roses. Fair Lane, the Ford’s Michigan estate, had more than 350 varieties of roses and 10,000 rose plants in their five acre garden.

  Clara Ford Rose Garden    In honor of Clara’s birthday and Henry’s 150th coming up on July 30th, Edison Ford horticulture staff will be installing a small historic rose garden at The Mangoes, the Ford’s winter estate.

      The unveiling of the garden will be held in July in honor of Henry Ford’s 150th birthday. Funding for the Clara Ford Rose Garden, provided by Peggy Campbell, great-niece of Clara Bryant Ford.


Edison Ford Celebrates National Arbor Day

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On April 18, 2013

Edison Ford Tree Planting

Thomas and Mina Edison are joined in tree planting by Edison Ford garden patron, Berne Davis, and a member of the Fort Myers-Lee County Garden Council.

Thomas and Mina Edison are joined in tree planting by Edison Ford garden patron, Berne Davis, and a member of the Fort Myers-Lee County Garden Council.

● April 26 – 10:00 a.m.

      In observance of National Arbor Day, the Edison & Ford Winter Estates will be planting a coconut palm tree on the Edison Estate to continue the restoration of this historic landscape of the two estates and historic McGregor Boulevard. The public is invited to join in the ceremony with students from the nearby Edison Park Creative and Expressive School for the Arts.

      Edison Ford has planted new trees every Arbor Day for many years and also added other trees throughout the year to maintain the old fashioned plants and trees on the historical site. More than a hundred years ago, Mr. and Mrs. Edison planted dozens of coconut palms at their tropical winter estate, locating most of them in the coconut grove along the river and along the McGregor Boulevard fence. Eventually the line of coconut palms extended to the Ford estate next door and became an important and recognizable feature of the Edison and Ford tropical gardens.

      Since 1872 Arbor Day has been a national holiday celebrated each year by planting a tree. The public can support the Edisonedison coconut grove mcgregor Coconut Palm Restoration Project by contributing funds to purchase a tree. Contributions are tax deductible and includes donation signage. For more information call 239-334-7419 or visit us on the Web.




Edison Ford Celebrates Viva Florida with Special Exhibit February – November

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On February 24, 2013

     On Thomas Edison’s 166th birthday (February 11, 2013) the Edison & Ford Winter

Estates will open a special exhibit in the historic Edison Caretaker’s House, “Discovering Southwest Floridaviva Florida exhibit poster with Thomas Edison and Henry Ford.”

      The exhibit features a collection of historic photographs of Edison and Ford’s favorite pastimes in Southwest Florida accompanied with contemporary photographs and artifacts from the Edison Ford collection.

      Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and their families came to Southwest Florida more than a hundred years ago when Fort Myers boasted only a few hundred families. They established riverside neighboring estates, a botanical laboratory, and research gardens from 1885 through the 1930s. They vacationed in Fort Myers and continued working on important projects. They also explored Florida and enjoyed the beaches, waterways, fishing, hunting and visits from their famous friends. In the process they contributed greatly to the history and development of the region. In fact, Edison’s quote, “there is only one Fort Myers and ninety million people are going to find out” became a reality as the area grew.


     “The exhibit is a great opportunity to share Southwest Florida history and natural resources with residents and visitors from all over the world,” say Chris Pendleton, president & CEO. “The Edison and Ford families enjoying much of what we enjoy today about Southwest Florida, fishing, shelling, boating, paddling, and exploring.”

Viva Florida 500      In partnership with Visit Florida, the exhibit celebrates Viva Florida 500, a yearlong commemoration highlighting 500 years of historic people, places, and events in present-day Florida, since the arrival of Juan Ponce de Leon in 1513, to the land he named “La Florida.” The Lee County Library System has scheduled a host of programs and events to highlight Southwest Florida’s treasured history. For more information visit the Lee County Library System, or for a listing of statewide events visit Viva Florida online.   



Henry Ford and Santa Claus

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On December 12, 2012

Henry Ford enjoyed celebrating the Christmas season in many ways. He was known to give extravagant gifts to those close to him—he gave a brand new Ford automobile to Theodore Edison in 1915! But Ford was quite generous in other ways, as well.

In 1910, a log cabin was built on Ford’s Dearborn, Michigan property. Each year, Ford transformed the modest cabin into “Santa’s Workshop,” inviting local children to participate in a magical experience which included a sleigh, reindeer and their choice of any present they wished.

This Christmas custom was carried on for decades. After Henry Ford’s death in 1947, his wife Clara continued the tradition until she passed away in 1950.

Today, the Edison & Ford Winter Estates represent this classic Christmas motif by decorating areas of the Ford home in historically accurate Santa Claus décor.  Visitors can view these decorations day or night, or, for an up-close look at the decorated homes, a special Holiday Nights Behind the Scenes tour is available. The tour is offered every Tuesday in December (except Christmas day) at 6:00pm. Call (239) 334-7419 for more information or to reserve your place.

NEW Hands-on Smart Cart in Edison Ford Museum

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On September 26, 2012

     The new hands-on Smart Cart in the Edison Ford Museum provides all ages with a chance to learn more about the science and history of artifacts from the Museum’s large education collection, and it is already a hit with visitors, curators and educators.

    Our Smart Carts are brightly colored yellow with big handprints  on them to encourage hands-on exploration and discovery. Throughout the day, site historians and docents move the Smart Cart through the Museum Galleries demonstrating and engaging visitors to learn more about a variety of artifacts and how they work including light bulbs, wax cylinder, diamond disc records and botanical specimens that were only a few of the Edison and Ford inventions.

Our initial reactions of visitors to this new project have been very enthusiastic, so expect to see more Smart Carts and changing artifacts throughout the future.


Happy Birthday Henry Ford!

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On July 1, 2012

July 30th marks the 149th birthday of Henry Ford and the Edison & Ford Winter Estates is celebrating the day with antique car programs, lectures, and Museum demonstrations throughout the day.

As an industrialist, Ford is most noted as the father of the automobile. He was one of the greatest innovators and inventors of our time holding 161 US patents. He was also a filmmaker, who was the largest producer and distributor of films; an early pioneer in sustainability and “green science” methods; as well as a collector; accomplished dancer; and marketer whose business practices set the standard for advertising and marketing today.

Ford Facts:

  • The Ford Motor Company was formed in 1903 and Ford created an assembly line which revolutionized car production, making automobiles affordable for middle class Americans to own, forever changing where people lived and how  they traveled.
  • In 1920 Henry Ford developed charcoal briquets under the brand name Kingsford. Ford built a charcoal plant after turning wood scraps from the production of the Model T’s into charcoal briquets.
  • In 1929, Henry Ford established the Edison Institute in Dearborn Michigan, today named The Henry Ford and Greenfield Village, with his personal collection of historic objects which he began collecting as far back as 1906. The Museum and Village boasts rare collections of famous homes, machinery and Americana including the original Edison Electric Laboratory from Fort Myers.
  • As an early American “green scientist,” Ford patented a plastic bodied car in 1942 using soy based plastics in hopes to use agricultural plastics to promote other markets for farmers to sell their crops.
  • In 1905, Henry Ford served as Vice President of the Society of Automotive Engineers when the organization was founded to standardize US automotive parts.


On July 30, 2012 join Edison Ford curatorial staff at 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. for a presentation on The Legacy of Henry Ford’s, Cars and Engines in the Edison Ford Museum.

Lectures are FREE to the public with admission.