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

Edison & Ford Winter Estates Blog

Edison & Ford Winter Estates Blog

Bridging the Past and the Future of Fort Myers

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On January 22, 2016

edison birthday convertible paradeOn Thomas Edison’s final birthday, February 11, 1931, a ceremony was held to celebrate the opening of a newly constructed bridge named in his honor. Spanning the Caloosahatchee River, the structure acknowledged the famed inventor’s place in Fort Myers’ history. A group of local girls dressed in white escorted Edison’s car to the bridge opening from his home. Florida Governor, Doyle E. Carlton and Mayor of Fort Myers, Josiah Fitch delivered short speeches. Mayor Fitch, echoing the sentiments of many in the crowd, proclaimed: “Today we are touching a high spot in the history of Fort Myers. Whatever efforts we make here today to honor Mr. Edison will fall short of his honor to us.”

With a whoop, Thomas Edison untied the green and orange ribbon, officially opening the Edison Bridge.

edison birthday bridge opening

The Tamiami Trail

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On January 19, 2016

For many years, Fort Myers was somewhat isolated from its neighbors. In the 19th century, travel by boat was quite common. The train did not connect to the city until 1904, and it was not until 1924 that a wooden bridge first crossed the Caloosahatchee River into Fort Myers, allowing visitors from the north convenient access. Meanwhile, in 1916, work had begun to continue roadwork to the east, connecting Tampa with Miami. The project became known as the “Tamiami Trail.”

Twelve years, $8 million dollars, and almost three million sticks of dynamite later, the road-building project was completed. Thomas & Mina Edison used the newly constructed roadway to visit their friends, the Firestones, at their winter home in Miami Beach. Increased traffic rendered the existing wooden bridge obsolete and prompted construction of the Edison Bridge in 1928.

Edison Ford Receives Award

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On September 24, 2015

     Edison Ford received an award for work to promote The Henry Ford Legacy and preserve the Fort Myers Ford Estate. Chief Curator Mike Cosden, Assistant Curator Brent Newman, and Automotive Curator James Moss traveled to Henry and Clara Ford’s Historic Estate, Fair Lane, and to Greenfield Village and The Henry Ford Museum. While in Michigan, they undertook research and received the coveted “Friend of Ford Award” from the Henry Ford Heritage Association for their work to preserve the Florida Ford Estate and in recognition of ongoing projects like the new quadricycle, which they are building this year.

Curatorial Staff are pictured with the award and Henry Ford Heritage Association Treasurer, Mark Campbell.

Mike, Brent, James award for EFWE


Henry Ford to be Inducted into Florida Inventors Hall of Fame – October 2, 2015

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On July 15, 2015

Through the work of staff at Edison Ford, Henry Ford will be inducted into the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame which is located at the University of South Florida. This is an honor for the inventor himself, and for Henry and Clara’s Winter Estate which is under the management of Edison Ford today.

This completes the process for Edison Ford institutionally as last year, Thomas Edison was among the first group of Florida Inventors to be inducted into the new Florida Inventors Hall of Fame.

We are honored to be in the group of people who helped shape Florida and America. Chris Pendleton, President & CEO, and Mike Cosden, Chief Curator, will represent Edison Ford at the upcoming induction ceremony.

Henry Ford Florida Inventors Hall of Fame July 2015

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.



Edison & Ford Winter Estates is Now a National Historic Chemical Landmark

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On May 25, 2014

The work of Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone in rubber research has been acknowledged by the American Chemical Society (ACS) for its importance in chemical research. In May, the ACS recognized the Edison Botanical Research Laboratory at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates as a National Historic Chemical Landmark.

This is the first site in Florida to receive this designation to honor Thomas Edison’s contribution to the field of Chemistry. As the primary rubber research site, Edison Ford worked with two other sites which will also be designated as landmarks; Thomas Edison National Historic Park on June 6th and Henry Ford Greenfield Village on September 20th.

Edison Botanic Research Laboratory Photos 1

Edison inside the lab Compressed

Honoring 2013 Summer Education Intern, Wes Heintz

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On August 13, 2013

camp intern wes heintz     Weston Heintz will begin Veterinary School at the University of Florida this fall, but for the summer of 2013, he was an integral part of the teaching team for Edison Ford Summer Inventor’s Camp, working with our teachers and about 60 students a week.

      Wes submitted his credentials for the paid internship and was awarded the position based on his academic background (double majors in Biology and Chemistry) and experience working with youth groups. It also helps that he has a real affinity for hands-on science, a love of the outdoors, and holds EMT certification.

      Thanks Wes for your great work this summer, best of luck with your continued studies and remember that all of us at Edison Ford will be expecting your continued success.




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.

Ford Facts

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On July 8, 2013

Did you know . . .ford and engine

      •  Henry Ford was the founder of what is know today as Kingsford Charcoal  

      •  Henry Ford experimented with soy beans not only as a food source but created a suit and a car out of soy beans

     •  The Fordson Tractor was created by Henry Ford and became a mainstay on American farms in 1917       

“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”

                                                                                 – Henry Ford


     Follow us on Twitter for a Ford quote of the day at @edisonfordfl