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

Edison & Ford Winter Estates Blog

Edison & Ford Winter Estates Blog

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.

FREE ADMISSION to Veterans and Their Families

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On November 7th

 The Edison & Ford Winter Estates is offering FREE admission to United States Veterans and their families on November 11, 2010. The Estates is honoring the men, women and their families who have served our country.  Free admission includes a tour of the historic homes, botanical gardens, and Estates Museum.  In addition, Veteran’s will receive a 10% discount on Estates membership and items in the Museum Store.

Veterans must present a VA identification card or their DD214 papers to receive free admission. Current servicemen and women may also gain free admission by presenting an active military ID. 

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.efwefla.org.

Edison & Ford Winter Estates Programs – June 2010

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On June 7th
June at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates is highlighted with the return of the Dead Fish Printing Workshop, Free Admission for Fathers on Father’s Day, and a new Botanic Lab Exhibit in the Museum.   Regular guided tours of the historic buildings and gardens as well as audio wand tours are available daily. Expanded Botanic Tours are available on Thursday and Saturday mornings at 9 AM and they include the botanical gardens as well as the propagating nursery. The Estates are open daily from 9 AM until 5:30 PM. Special activities include:     
 
Fish Printing Workshop, June 19, noon – 3 PM
Just in time for Father’s Day join guest artists and  architects for a Dead Fish Printing Workshop (ancient Japanese art form, gyotaku) on t-shirts or other clothes for a one-of-a-kind gift for dad. The workshop is free (a $5 donation is suggested  for Estates Summer Camp scholarships) and participants are encouraged to bring their own shirts, although shirts in limited sizes will be available for purchase.                                                                                                                                                          

Free Admission for Dads on Father’s Day, June 20

The Estates is offering FREE admission to any father accompanied with their paid child on Father’s Day. Free admission includes a tour of the newly restored homes, the historic botanical gardens, the Estates Museum and Edison’s Research Laboratory.

New Volunteer Orientation, June 8, 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. Volunteers receive free Membership in the Edison & Ford Winter Estates and other benefits.
 
Docent Training, June 17, 9AM
New Estates volunteers who are interested in becoming Edison & Ford porch docents, Lab and Museum docents, or group tour docents of the Estates grounds must attend this mandatory lecture and meeting.
 
Quilting and Stitchery Demonstration, June 26, 10 AM – 1 PM
Quilter’s from the Southwest Florida Quilter’s Guild and members of the Southwest Florida Embroidery Guild will demonstrate quilting, knitting and stitching techniques. In the early 1900’s Henry and Clara Ford collected, celebrated and displayed quilts and other historical objects in their museums and homes. The Southwest Florida Quilter’s Guild presented the Estates with a replica Ford Collection Quilt that is on exhibit in the Estates Museum. Demonstration is FREE with purchase of Estates Home and Garden Tour ticket. 
 
Registration for Edison & Ford Winter Estates Inventor’s Summer Camp
The Estates Inventor’s Summer Camp is back again this year and the Wild Wizard is here all summer long. Camp begins on June 7, 2010 and runs through August 20, 2010.  Camps are open for grades 1-6 and sessions are separated by grade levels. Campers will make movies, become science detectives, launch objects into orbit, construct bridges and animate their own short films.  Registratin forms are available online at www.efwefla.org or are available at the Estates.  Estates Members $200; non members $230. Scholarships are available. For more information on specific topics, dates and times contact the Estates Education Department at 239-334-7419.

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.efwefla.org.

Fort Myers Cultural Visionary Wins Award of Excellence

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On May 18th
Chris Pendleton, president and chief executive officer of the Edison & Ford Winter Estates, has been honored with a national “Award of Excellence” from National Garden Clubs Inc., the largest volunteer organization of its type in the world. Pendleton is recognized for her leadership in the restoration and the implementation of new horticulture programs in the gardens on the site of the winter homes of American inventor Thomas A. Edison and automobile industrialist Henry Ford at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers.

 

Chris Pendleton, President & CEO, Edison & Ford Winter Estates

Pendleton, whose vision for the Edison & Ford Winter Estates included the restoration of its gardens and historic buildings, was integral to securing funding from local, state and federal agencies, foundations and private donors for preservation of the site, as well as in the development of new visitor amenities, classrooms and public gardens. The Edison & Ford Winter Estates is one of the top 10 most visited historic home sites in America attracting more than 200,000 visitors annually from all over the world.  

Pendleton’s career includes managing museums, gardens, science and natural history centers in South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia and Florida.  Pendleton’s nomination was sponsored by the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs Inc. The award was presented at the National Garden Clubs‘ annual convention May 15,2010 in Atlanta.

The Moonlight Garden, Photo by Michael Shapiro Photography

National Garden Clubs Inc. is a not-for-profit organization that offers service projects such as Garden Therapy, Habitat for Humanity Landscaping, Golden Days, Plant It Pink, Blue Star Memorials, school gardening initiatives for children, flower shows, and a host of civic beautification and improvement efforts. Founded in 1929 and headquartered in St. Louis, NGC (www.gardenclub.org) has 200,000 members connected through a vast network of 6,300 local clubs, 50 state clubs and a national Capitol area club, as well as a sizable group of international affiliates.

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.  For more information on What’s Blooming at the Estates visit the Estates web site at www.efwefla.org

Historic preservationists and advocates from around the state of Florida will soon gather in Fort Myers and Lee County, Fla., for the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation’s Annual Conference. Destination Preservation the 32nd Annual Statewide Preservation Conference will take place May 13 – 15, 2010, at the Sanibel Harbour Resort & Spa in Fort Myers.

An announcement of the historic properties in Florida included on the 2010 Florida’s Eleven Most Endangered Historic Sites will be made on May 13, 2010, during the opening session. The Most Endangered Historic Sites program is designed to increase the public’s awareness of the urgent need to save Florida’s neglected or threatened historic resources and nominated properties are reviewed by a designated Most Endangered committee.

Preservation-specific classes will complement programs focused on downtown revitalization and development, and neighborhood design. Included in the schedule of historic site management workshops will be topics related to business management and marketing planning, collaboration and partnership development, and identifying funding sources in today’s economy. The conference program also includes a walking tour in the Historic Downtown Fort Myers which has undergone a terrific and exciting revitalization and restoration in recent years. An architecture and restoration tour is scheduled at the nearby Edison & Ford Winter Estates, and several tours will showcase the rich history of the Lee County area, display the balance between growth and development and its impact on the state’s agricultural heritage, and participants will learn about cultural landscape assessment methods.

“The upcoming conference offers something for everyone involved with and passionate about historic preservation,” said Mathias Bergendahl, Executive Director of the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation. “Architects specializing in historical restoration, city planners interested in learning about historic preservation efforts in Florida cities and neighborhoods, board members of a non-profit looking to secure funding for preservation projects, or preservation advocates seeking ideas for how to effectively communicate their message to legislators will benefit from attending.”

“Lee County is proud to host the conference for the first time in two decades,” said Chris Pendleton, Edison & Ford Winter Estates President & CEO and Trustee of Florida Trust for Historic Preservation. “The conference will include workshops, seminars, tours and events throughout the county.”  Pendleton serves as State Chair of the conference. Other local committee members include William Grace and Gina Taylor of Lee Trust for Historic Preservation, Local Chairs; Lisa Sbuttoni of Edison & Ford Winter Estates, Events Chair; Jared Beck of City of Fort Myers  and Merry Coffman of Edison & Ford Winter Estates, Tours and Transportation Co-Chairs; Theresa Schober of City of Fort Myers Beach, Workshop Chair; Naomi Goren  of Edison & Ford Winter Estates and Pam Brown of Lee County Visitor & Convention Center, Volunteers Co-Chairs; Jeff Mudgett and Michele Gouley of Parker Mudgett Smith Architects, Restoration Marketplace Co-Chairs; Pamela Johnson of Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau, Graphics and Design Co-Chairs.

Founded in 1978, the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation promotes the preservation of the architectural, historical and archaeological heritage of Florida through advocacy, education and stewardship of historic properties. The Florida Trust advocates for the protection of historically significant properties and as part of its membership program offers free or reduced admissions and other special benefits at over 80 historic sites, museums and parks across the state of Florida.

For more information, please contact the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation at (850) 224-8128 or visit www.floridatrust.org.

Mother’s Day Brunch at the Estates

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On April 16th

Dinner & the Movies – at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On March 20th

Black Maria Film Festival 2010

 The Edison & Ford Winter Estates, Edison State College and BIG ARTS, Sanibel Island  will host the Thomas Edison Black Maria Film Festival in Florida for a fourth season.  The award winning festival will be held on March 26, 2010, 7:30 PM at the Estates; March 27, 2010, 7:30 PM at the Auditorium at the Richard H. Rush Library at Edison State College; and March 29, 2010, 7:00 PM at Schein Performance Hall at BIG ARTS on Sanibel Island. 

The Festival has the added attraction of being shown outdoors in the gardens of the Estates and this year the Estates is kicking off Dinner & the Movies.  Moviegoers can enjoy a meal, as they enjoy the beautiful sunset along the Caloosahatchee River, and watch a series of award winning films and videos.  The entire evening will cost $9.50 for Estates members and $16.50 for non members and includes Dinner & the Movies.

Dinner will be served on the historic grounds of the Ford Estate and include a choice of a pulled pork sandwich, two sides (potato salad, baked beans, coleslaw), soft drink and jumbo cookie for $9.50 per person or a hot dog, soft drink and jumbo cookie for $7.75 per person.  Beer and wine will be available at an additional cost and popcorn is FREE. 

Dinner will begin at 6 PM and reservations are required by calling the Estates at 239-334-7419.  Seating is limited.

Tickets for the Black Maria Film Festival may be bought in advance at the Estates, 2350 McGregor Boulevard; and BIG ARTS, 900 Dunlop Road, Sanibel Island.    The cost is $7 per evening for adults, $5 for students.  Tickets for all three nights can be purchased at a discounted rate of $15.  Estates Members are free on March 26 and Edison State College students are free on March 27.  Seating is limited.  For more information call 239-334-7419 or visit the following websites: Edison & Ford Winter Estates at www.efwefla.org, Edison State College at www.edison.edu/artsedison/events.php BIG ARTS at www.bigarts.org and the Black Maria Film Festival at  www.blackmariafilmfestival.org.

Edison & Ford Winter Estates ANTIQUE CAR SHOW

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On February 2nd

The Edison & Ford Winter Estates continue the celebration of Thomas Edison’s birthday by hosting the Estates Antique Car Show on Saturday, February 6, from 10 AM to 2 PM.  The show is included in the price of admission to the Estates, or a separate ticket of $5 may be purchased to attend the car show that is staged at Henry Ford’s Winter Estate, The Mangoes.  Estates members are FREE.

Nearly 100 antique cars will be on exhibit from local Car Clubs and other classic car owners who will showcase their cars on the Ford lawn, in a fitting tribute to the legacy of Henry Ford, pioneer of the automobile industry and a winter resident of Fort Myers.  Owners will be on hand to visit with guests and answer questions.

In addition to the car show, other special programs during the day include:

•           Model T Tour and Lecture with Estates staff and car owners at 11 AM and 1 PM

•           Live Music

•           Henry and Clara Ford leading informal tours throughout the event

•           Food served on the Ford Cottage Terrace  

A portion of the proceeds from the Estates Antique Car Show will benefit the restoration of the antique car collection of the Edison & Ford Winter Estates.

Brunch with Mina Edison – “Living with a Genius”

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On January 22nd

Due to popular demand, additional dates have been added for the upcoming theatre in the gardens program, Brunch with Mrs. Edison “Living with a Genius” at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates.  The additional dates are February 12 & 13 at 11 AM. 

Storyteller, writer, playwright and professional actress, Nan Colton will bring to life the remarkable and charitable Mina Edison with unforgettable tales of “living with a genius.”  The performance will be presented under a tent at the Estates Moonlight Garden and includes brunch and mimosas amidst the beautiful historic plantings. Hats and gloves are encouraged!  

“Living with a Genius” is a witty, one woman show that engages the audience in what it is like to live with a genius – in this case, Mina Edison and her husband, Thomas Edison.  Colton is well known for her charming representation of historic women which includes storytelling and audience involvement. 

On February 12th, the event will include a show and sale of hats designed by southwest Florida artists and personalities.  The hats will be on display at Saks Fifth Avenue at Bell Tower, Fort Myers on February 4 – February 10.

Reservations are required, seating is limited.  Estates members, $50; non-members $60.  Group rates are available.  For additional information and reservations call 239-334-7419 or visit the web site at www.efwefla.org.

October 2009

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On September 24th

October at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates is highlighted with the return of the Estates Clothesline Quilt Show and Airing of the Quilts as well as a variety of other special programs throughout the month of October.  The October schedule of programs and events include:

Estates Fall Volunteer Event, October 8, 2 PM

Yvonne Hill, author of Sanibel Island, Florida (Images of America Series) will be the guest speaker.  After Hill’s discussion, volunteers will tour the inside of the historic homes with Estates Curator, Pam Miner, to view the recent restoration and improvements.  Registration is required by calling 239-334-7419.    

New Volunteer OrientationOctober 13, 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.

Home Schoolers: “Can You Hear Me Now?”  October 16, 1pm – 3pm

The science of communication technology is advancing everyday. Home schoolers will learn about Edison and Ford’s contribution to communication technology from phonograph to iPod.   Curriculum 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. 

Docent Training, October 22, 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.

Clothesline Quilt Show and Airing of Quilts, October 31, 10 AM – 2 PM

Clothesline Quilt Show

The Edison & Ford Winter Estates and the Southwest Florida Quilters’ Guild will be “airing their quilts” on clotheslines on the beautiful historic Edison estate.  The tradition of “airing” quilts dates back to Colonial America when women would take quilts out of summer storage and “air” them in autumn for use in winter.  In addition to the contemporary quilts available for show and sale, a variety of antique quilts will be on display, live Edison era music will be performed, and a collection of antique cars will be on display.  Estates Members FREE; non members $5. 

Estates at Downtown Farmers’ Market,   Thursdays, 7 AM – 1 PM

The Estates Garden Shoppe will be participating in the Downtown Farmers’ Market located in the Centennial Park parking lot.  The Estates joins fruit, vegetable, and fresh flower vendors in this 14 year tradition.  The Estates will offer herbs, heritage plants, garden supplies, and garden items available for purchase.  Estates members will receive a 10% discount. 

Mark your calendars: Upcoming Estates Events

•           Edison Garden Market, November 27, 28, & 29

Edison Garden Market

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. 

•           Edison & Ford Holiday Nights, Preview 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 3, 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.