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Edison & Ford Winter Estates Blog

Edison & Ford Holiday Nights: December 9 – January 1

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On September 14th

Spend the holidays with one of Southwest Florida’s holiday traditions, the 35th annual Edison & Ford Holiday Nights at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers.  Edison & Ford Holiday Nights attracts visitors from throughout the world annually to view the lights and seasonal decorations that fill 20 acres of gardens, and the recently restored Edison and Ford historic homes. 
 
The theme for Edison & Ford Holiday Nights has always been a combination of historical decorations amidst the orchids, exotic trees and plantings that fill the gardens.  Visitors will have the option of a self guided tour or guided tour (6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.).  Guided tours include the historic homes, gardens, lab and museum with an historic site interpreter and are available on a first come, first serve basis.  
 
This year there will be events including the artist and craftsmen exhibits and appearances in the “Creative Cottage” as well as book signings and demonstrations located in the Edison Caretaker’s House;  nightly entertainment by local school and community groups; Santa visits; Horse and Wagon Rides; and a “Children’s Tree Trail.”  The “Trail” will be a veritable forest of lighted trees with handmade ornaments from Lee County students and is FREE to the public. 
 
During the holidays the homes of Thomas and Mina Edison and Henry and Clara Ford will be open nightly from 5:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. The event also includes special exhibitions, nightly performances of dance, instrumental and choral music (by area groups and schools) and holiday items in the “Creative Cottage”, Museum Store, Garden Shoppe and the historic Ford Cottage Shoppe.  The Estates Museum and Edison’s Lab will be open nightly as well as the Estates Banyan Café for refreshments.  Tickets for a self guided tour are $15 for adults and $1 for children (6-12); guided tours are $20 for adults and $11 for children (6-12).  Groups may schedule guided or unguided tours from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. and will receive discounted group rates.  In addition, the Estates will be offering Lee County residents special “hometown discounts” on December 9, 10, 11, 12, 2010.

Edison & Ford Winter Estates Programs – August 2010

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On August 2nd

August at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates includes a Summer’s End Celebration with FREE admission for teachers, school staff and their families; the introduction of a new Estates tour, Edison & Ford Young Inventor’s Family Tour; and Discounts to Southwest Florida Residents as well as a variety of other special programs throughout the month of August.  The August schedule of programs and events include:

Estates Inventor’s Summer Camp, Space  Available
For budding rocket scientists, film makers, animators and science detectives, registration is still open for Estates Inventors’ Summer Camp at the Estates. Weeklong camps continue through August 20.  Camp hours are 9 AM – 4 PM, Monday – Friday.  Camps are open for grades 1st – 6th and sessions are separated by grade levels, 1st – 3rd and 4th – 6th.  Cost for Estates Members is $200; non members $230.  Scholarships will be available.
Spaceships & Rockets, August 9 – 13
The final Frontier!  Campers will explore the outer reaches of the universe with our resident spaceman.  Campers will get to visit planets, collect samples, float on our Lunar Lander, and tons more!
Eager Engineers, August 16 – August 20
“To be a good inventor you need a good imagination and a pile of junk,” said Thomas Edison.  The Estates will supply the junk and jump start the imagination.  Campers will use recycled materials and develop Green Inventions such as robots that will perform a number of different tasks, conduct science experiments, participate in balloon car races, build bridges, and more!

Behind the Scenes Lab Tour for Estates Volunteers, August 4, 9:30 AM
Estates volunteers are invited to a special behind the scenes tour of the Edison Botanic Research Lab.  Estates curatorial staff will present new Lab findings discovered while moving artifacts into the visible storage area in the Museum.  The tour will include a walk inside the visible storage area and restoration.  Registration is required.  

New Volunteer Orientation, August 10,10 AM
Join Estates staff to learn about volunteer opportunities, Estates policies and general Museum information.  This is a mandatory training for all Estates volunteers.  New and potential volunteers are welcome.

Summer’s End Celebration:  FREE Day for teachers, school staff & their families, August 14, tours begin at 10 AM
Besides FREE admission for teachers, school staff and their families, a full day of specialized tours (10:00 AM and 1:00 PM), hands-on sciences performances by the Estates Wild Wizard (12:00 PM), fish printing workshops (1:00PM – 3:00 PM) and the unveiling of the Estates newest tour, Edison & Ford Young Inventors Family Tour (3:00 PM) will be available throughout the day.   Educators and school staff must present a school issued identification badge to receive free admission.  Registration is required for specialized tours designed for educators. To register call the Estates Education Department at 239-334-7419. 

Docent Training, August 19, 9 AM
New Estates volunteers who are interested in becoming porch, Lab or Museum docents, or leading a group tour of the Estates grounds must attend this mandatory meeting.

NEW Edison & Ford Young Inventors Family Tour, August 21, 11:00 AM & 1:00 PM
The Estates newest Museum tour offers families an interactive, hands-on inventions experience focusing on children’s science activities including the Ford assembly line; the incandescent light bulb; creating their own rubber product and the history of the first recorded sound “machine” Edisons’ phonograph to the MP3 player. Due to limited space, the tour will be on a first come first serve basis and includes admission to the Lab and Museum.   Cost is $12 adults, $5 children ages 6 -12 and FREE to 5 and under.    

Summer Discounts for Southwest Florida Residents, August 21
Just in time for the end of summer vacation, the Estates is offering half price admissions for all Southwest Florida residents to tour the Estates Museum, Laboratory, Homes and Gardens.  Tickets will be $10 for adults and $5.50 for children (ages 6 -12; 5 and under FREE).  Residents must present a driver’s license or voter registration card with photo ID to show their address in Lee, Hendry, Collier, Charlotte or Glades County. 

Quilting and Stitchery Demonstration, August 21, 10 AM – 1 PM
Quilters from the Southwest Florida Quilter’s Guild and members of the Southwest Florida Embroidery Guild will demonstrate quilting and stitching and will be available to answer questions on techniques and care.   In the early 1900’s Henry Ford collected, celebrated and displayed quilts and other historical objects. Demonstration is FREE with purchase of Estates Home and Garden Tour ticket.

Sneak Peek Tour, August 26, 9:30 AM
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 “Sneak Peek Tours”, space is limited and registration is required.

Edison & Ford Winter Estates Celebrates Henry Ford’s Birthday

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On July 9th

The Edison & Ford Winter Estates will celebrate the 147th birthday of Henry Ford on Friday, July 30 at 10 AM.  The celebration will include cake and a “Sneak Peek” tour of the Ford Estate with Henry Ford.  Admission is FREE to Estates members; non members $20 adults, $11  children 6 -12, children 5 and under are free.  Admission includes a guided tour or self guided tour and audio wand of the historic homes, gardens, lab and Museum. 

“Ford’s birthday marks a very important day in American history, and we invite the public to share in the celebration…. Learn about Henry Ford…. And visit the beautiful winter homes of one of America’s greatest industrialists,” says Chris Pendleton, Estates president & CEO.  “Ford’s remarkable history spanned decades and totally changed our way of life.”

Ford facts include:
• Henry Ford grew up on a typical nineteenth-century farm in Dearborn, Michigan. At an early age he demonstrated an interest in mechanics and a dislike for farm work.
• Ford married Clara Bryant in 1888. He would later refer to Clara as “the Believer” for her faith in and support of his ideas.
• In 1891 Ford became an engineer for the Edison Illuminating Company, and was soon promoted to Chief Engineer. This position allowed him time to experiment with the internal combustion engine. Ford idolized Thomas Edison and met him during an 1896 company convention in New York, where Ford relayed his ideas for the engine. Ford recalled the importance of Edison’s encouragement: “[O]ut of the clear blue sky the greatest inventive genius in the world had given me complete approval.”
• In 1896, at the age of 33, Ford completed the Quadricycle, a self-propelled vehicle with four wire wheels which was steered with a tiller and had two forward speeds. Ford traveled around Detroit in his “horseless carriage,” to the amazement, as well as disdain, of its citizens.
• The Ford Motor Company was incorporated in 1903 with the Model A. In 1908 Ford introduced the Model T, realizing his lifelong dream of a vehicle that was easy to operate and maintain and able to handle the rough roads of the era. The Model T quickly became a huge success, with more than 10,000 sold in 1909.
• Ford is considered the father of modern manufacturing. As the popularity of the Model T escalated, Ford devised a system that combined division of labor, standardized and interchangeable parts, and the assembly line. This revolutionized automobile production by reducing the amount of time involved in automobile manufacturing and consequently lowering production costs. Mass production was born. By 1913 some 1000 cars were produced in a typical eight-hour shift.
• By the late teens, Ford was an American celebrity and the public could not seem to get enough of him. Ford came into his office one day and said, “You know, I think I ought to get a pair of whiskers. Everybody seems to spot me.”
• In 1914 Ford made his first visit to Fort Myers at the invitation of his friend Thomas Edison. From there the two embarked on an Everglades camping trip. Calling themselves “the Vagabonds,” Ford and Edison, along with Harvey Firestone and John Burroughs, would make many more camping trips throughout the next fifteen years. In 1916, Ford purchased his Fort Myers retreat, The Mangoes, for $20,000 and enlarged it by adding two family and staff wings.
• Ford was seriously interested in unifying urban and rural industry. He encouraged the idea of using agricultural products for industrial purposes. For example, Ford experimented with an automobile trunk made from soybean-based plastic. He was a partner in the Edison Botanical Research Lab located on Estates’ property.
• In the mid-1920s the New York Times estimated the assets of the Ford Motor Company at $1.2 billion, or about $13 billion today. Ford himself drew an average of about $4.5 million per year during this decade, or about $50 million in today’s dollars. Said Ford, “I’m in a peculiar position. There is nothing I want that I cannot have. But I do not want the things that money can buy. I want to live a life, to make the world a little better for having lived in it.”
• In 1928 Ford established and endowed The Edison Institute in Dearborn, MI (now The Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village), an indoor/outdoor museum created to illustrate and preserve the American experience and celebrate American ingenuity.
• In 1929 Ford threw a lavish party in Dearborn in honor of the fiftieth anniversary of Edison’s invention of the incandescent lamp. Ford presented his friend with a detailed reconstruction of Edison’s Menlo Park and the original 1887 Fort Myers laboratory at The Edison Institute. Edison became misty-eyed and remarked that “the memories of eighty-two years were flooding back.” Ford told reporters at the event, “We are ahead of all other countries today, simply and solely because we have Mr. Edison.”
• Ford loved dancing and in the 1920s began a massive effort to revive old-fashioned dancing. He sponsored a national tour of dancing master Benjamin Lovett. Dancing was also an important part of Ford’s social life in Fort Myers.
• Henry Ford earned the American Legion Distinguished Service Medal for his efforts on behalf of disabled veterans in both World Wars. In 1997, Life Magazine named him one of the “100 People Who Made the Millennium,” and in 2000 Time Magazine named him one of the “100 Most Important People of the Century.” In 2000 Forbes Magazine called him the “#1 Industrialist of the Century.”
• Ford returned to The Mangoes only sporadically after Thomas Edison’s death in 1931. In 1945 he sold it to Thomas and Gladys Biggar. In 1988, the City of Fort Myers purchased Henry Ford’s estate for $1.5 million, restored it to its historic appearance and opened it to the public in 1989.
• Henry Ford’s Fort Myers estate is open daily and now managed by the Edison & Ford Winter Estates, Inc., a non-profit organization.
• On July 30, 2007 a statue commemorating Henry Ford’s achievements and time in Fort Myers was created by D. J. Wilkins and donated by Orvall McCleary to the Estates.

Edison & Ford Winter Estates Programs – May 2010

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On April 18th

 May at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates is highlighted with the return of the of Mother’s Day Brunch on May 9, Florida Trust for Historic Preservation Statewide Conference and FREE admission to Veteran’s and their families on Memorial Day, as well as a variety of special exhibits, children and adult programs, throughout the month of May.  The May schedule of programs and events include:

• Mother’s Day Sale & Book Signing  in Museum Store, May 8, 11 PM – 3 PM
Looking for the perfect gift for a Mother who has everything?  Estates  Artists and Authors will personalize artwork and books for a one of a kind gift and shopper’s will receive 10% off all merchandise in the store including orchids, herb baskets, jewelry and special gifts for Mom.  Invited authors include John Sheppard, I Can See Clearly Now; Harry Adams, The Dancing Porch; Doug MacGregor, Get Creative, Turn on the Bright Side of Your Brain; and Tom Smoot, The Edisons of Fort Myers.

• Mother’s Day Brunch in the Gardens, May 9, 11 AM
Celebrate your Mom with a delectable brunch in the Estates Coconut Grove overlooking the Caloosahatchee River.  The diverse menu will please every member of your family.  Leave time to enjoy the historical ambience and create treasured memories with a tour of the historic homes, gardens and Museum.  Ticket price includes brunch, entertainment, an Estates tour and a special gift for Mom.  Registration required.  Estates Members, adults $30, children ages 4 – 12 and $12; non members adults $35, children ages 4 -12 and under $12; children 3 and under FREE. In the event of rain, Mother’s Day Brunch will be served in the Estates Museum.

• Free Admission to Mom’s on Mothers’ Day, May 9, 1 PM – 4 PM
The Estates is offering FREE admission to any mother accompanied with their paid child on Mother’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, May 11, 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. 

• “Destination Preservation” 32nd Annual Statewide Preservation Conference, May 12 – 14, Sanibel Harbour Marriott Resort and Spa.
The Florida Trust for Historic Preservation’s Annual Statewide Preservation Conference kicks off on May 12, 2010. Showcasing Lee County, the conference will offer workshops, tours and special events designed to teach participants how historic preservation can play a key role in conserving national resources. To register, please call (850) 224-8128. To download the conference program, please visit http://www.floridatrust.org/news/373.  For information about the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation, please visit www.floridatrust.org.

• Docent Training, May 20, 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 meeting.

• Home Schoolers:  “Stormy Weather”  May 21, 1 PM – 3 PM
Students will test their skills as meteorologists by learning the science of weather.  Home schooled 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. 

• Quilting and Stitchery Demonstration,  May 22, 10 AM – 1 PM
Quilter’s from the Southwest Florida Quilter’s Guild and members of the Southwest Florida Embroidery Guild  will be demonstrating quilting and stitching techniques on the Edison porch.  Members of the Guild will be available to answer questions on techniques and care.   In the early 1900’s Henry Ford collected, celebrated and displayed quilts and other historical objects.  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. 

• Free Admission to Veteran’s and their families on Memorial Day, May 31
The Estates is offering free admission to United States Veterans and their families on May 31.  Free admission includes a tour of the historic homes, botanical gardens, the Estates Museum and the Edison Research Lab.  Veterans must present a VA identification card or their DD214 papers to receive free admission. 

• 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.  Registration forms are available on line at www.efwefla.org or are available at the Estates.  Estates Members $200; non members $230.  For more information on specific topics, dates and times contact the Estates Education Department at 239-334-7419.

Horse and Wagon Rides with Santa and The Edisons

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On December 21st


Holiday Wagon Rides at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates depart from the historic Ford Estate and tour the nearby old Edison Park neighborhood during the annual Edison & Ford Holiday Nights event. From December 21 – December 23 visitors can enjoy a wagon ride with Santa Claus and December 26 & 27 guests can ride with Thomas and Mina Edison. The cost is $5 for adults and $3 per children ages 12 and under. Visitors will be delighted with the meandering tour of the old neighborhood with the two stately French horses.

Edison & Ford Holiday Nights is an annual lighted event at the historic Estates of the two inventors. The event continues through January 2, 2010 (closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day).

Group rates for Edison & Ford Holiday Nights are available in advance by calling 239-334-7419. In addition to touring the 20 acres of beautifully decorated gardens, historic homes, Edison Lab and Museum, food and beverages are available for purchase on the river, there is nightly music in the Estates Heritage Gardens and Creative Cottage is open featuring area artists, authors and craftspeople for one-of-a-kind gifts.

The Edison & Ford Winter Estates received the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) 2009 Phoenix Award at a reception at the Royal Palm Yacht Club, in Fort Myers, Florida on November 18, 2009.  The SATW Phoenix Awards recognize organizations actively involved in conservation, preservation and beautification that further the growth and appeal of North American travel destinations.   SATW President, Timothy O’Keefe, presented the award.

The annual award, given since 1969, is to recognize individuals or organizations actively involved in conservation, preservation, beautification and anti-pollution campaigns that further the growth and appeal of North American travel destinations.  The SATW is a non-profit professional association that works to promote responsible travel journalism and to provide professional support for its members. 

The Estates was nominated by Laurie Borman, SATW past president.  Borman said, “I saw an inspiring place where visitors can peek into the lives of two American geniuses.  These homes bring to life the exciting times and lifestyles of the 1920’s, as well as provide a compelling attraction to downtown Fort Myers.  I also visited the homes as a child on vacation, so it was especially gratifying to see that this treasure has been preserved for future generations to appreciate.”

Chris Pendleton, president & CEO of the Edison & Ford Winter Estates accepted the award and said, “We are grateful to the Society of American Travel Writers for this honor.  The Estates staff and Board of Trustees are proud of the newly completed $12 million restoration and will continue to preserve this national historic treasure to provide visitors with a unique historical, scientific, educational and cultural experience.”

For 2009 a total of five Phoenix Awards were designated, the others being, Journey Through Hallowed Ground, Waterford, Virginia; World Bird Center, McAllen, Texas; Gerding Theater at the Armory, Portland, Oregon; and Main Huts and Trails, Kingsfield, Maine.

The Edison & Ford Winter Estates is offering FREE admission to United States Veterans and their families on November 11, 2009. 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, the Estates Museum, and Edison’s Research Laboratory.  In addition, Veterans 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 Edison & Ford Winter Estates is recipient of the National Trust for Historic Preservation Stewardship Award, a National Register Historic Site and a Florida Historic Landmark.  The Estates is open daily from 9 AM until 5:30 PM year-round.  The Edison & Ford Winter Estates is a private non-profit organization and receives grants through the State of Florida Department of Historical Resources as well as tourism marketing grant from the Lee County Tourism Commission.  Call 239.334.7419 or check the website at www.efwefla.org.

Edison & Ford Winter Estates Programs – November 2009

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On October 23rd

November at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates is highlighted with the return of the Estates Edison Garden Market and Creative Cottage as well as a variety of other special programs throughout the month of November.  The November schedule of programs and events include:

  • FREE Admission to Veterans and their Families, November 11

The Estates is offering free admission to United States Veterans and their families on November 11th.  Free admission includes a tour of the historic homes, botanical gardens, the Estates Museum and the Edison Research Lab.  Veterans must present a VA identification card or their DD214 papers to receive free admission. 

  • Edison Ford Winter Estates Foundation 9th Annual Foundation Gala, November 6

The Edison & Ford Winter Estates and Sam Galloway, Jr., President of the Edison Ford Winter Estates Foundation are celebrating “Moments in Black & White.”  The Gala features a reception and private dinner on the grounds of the Ford Estate including live entertainment, silent and live auctions featuring items that represent a “piece of the past and treasures of today”.  Limited seating!  For more information contact the Edison Ford Winter Estates Foundation office at 239-274-2377.  The Edison Ford Winter Estates Foundation provides preservation and restoration support to the Edison & Ford Winter Estates, Inc.    

  • New Volunteer OrientationNovember 10, 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.

  • Docent Training, November 19, 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.

  • Home School:  “Rocks, Minerals & Thomas Edison,” November 20, 1 PM – 3 PM

 Home schooled students and their parents can enroll in a half day of curriculum that follows the Florida Sunshine objectives for learning.  Home schoolers will learn about minerals and rocks including what Edison did with iron ore and Edison’s own concrete mixture.  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. 

  • Estates Closed Thanksgiving Day, November 26, Open Friday, November 27
  • Estates “Creative Cottage” Opens, November 27 – mid January

The seasonal Creative Cottage is back again in the historic Edison Caretaker’s House with a wonderful group of local artists, authors, craftspeople and chefs.  The “Creative Cottage” will be open 10 AM – 5 PM daily until December 11.  During the Estates Holiday event, “Edison & Ford Holiday Nights” hours will be extended to 9 PM.  Estates Members are FREE; a “shoppers pass” may be issued at the main ticket office to visit the “Creative Cottage”. Call 239-334-7419 for additional information. 

creative cottage local art

  • Edison Garden Market, November 27, noon – 5 PM; November 28,  9 AM – 5 PM; November 29, 9 AM – 3 PM

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. The event is FREE to the public.

edison garden market

  • Edison & Ford Holiday Nights, Holiday 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 2, 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.

Edison & Ford Holiday Nights: December 11, 2009 – January 2, 2010

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On September 30th

With a theme of “Favorite Things,” Edison & Ford Holiday Nights at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates is a 34 year tradition attracting visitors from all over the nation to see millions of lights and decorations throughout the riverside homes and gardens of the famous families.

       Holiday Nights 08 092

This year there are many new surprises and the return of the successful favorites making this a ‘must do’ for families, residents, visitors and groups.   The Edison & Ford Winter Estates is a National Register Historic Site and has just completed more than $12 million in award winning restoration to the historic Edison and Ford buildings, and historic gardens.  In fact, the project won the top award for restoration from the National Trust for Historic Preservation this year because of its attention to restoration detail and authenticity. Just recently the Estates is adding a new outdoor lighting system for an additional $500,000.

The historic site prides itself on recreating the holiday tradition in the days of the Edison and Ford families and their hundreds of visitors.  The historic buildings, porches, interior rooms and the gardens are all seasonally decorated.  This year, there is a new spin – the lights will be brilliantly colored which was the fashion and original design of the 1920’s.  The lights are a combination of tiny bright lights, new LED varieties and antique light displays from the collections of the Estates and museums as far away as the Schenectady Museum in upstate New York (home of GE who manufactured the lights).  The site has also added areas with projected laser light star fields (Edison would have enjoyed this contemporary spin!).

 

Some of the old favorites and new additions for December 2009 include:

•           Millions of colored lights throughout the site which includes nine historic buildings and unique structures such as the 1910 above ground swimming pool and teahouse

•           Favorite Things theme for the antique, replica and designer decorations

•           Projected laser light star fields in the trees

•           Live performance holiday music nightly in the Estates Heritage Garden by groups (free to the public)

•           Children’s Holiday Tree Trail created by schools throughout Lee County

•           Holiday music throughout the gardens

•           Riverside Lights Café open nightly offering beverages and light foods for purchase overlooking the beautiful riverside property

•           Estates Museum and the Edison Botanic Research Lab will be open nightly with new exhibits and hundreds of artifacts as well as the Estates Museum Store

•           Historic Edison Creative Cottage open for the holidays with spectacular work for purchase by regional artists, authors and chefs

•           Holiday Cottage Shoppe open on the Ford Estate for wonderful gift items including tree ornaments, cards, books, jams and jellies, clothing and art work – including decorator holiday shirts by Leoma Lovegrove

•           Garden Shoppe open for purchase of Edison heritage plants and trees, flowering plants and new this year, hanging herb baskets which will be featured decorations throughout the historic site as well

•           Special Holiday Party to kick off the season at the gloriously decorated homes and gardens of the Estates on December 10 from 6 PM – 9 PM.  A spectacular evening with food and drinks by the river; live music; Creative Cottage artists and authors available to personalize gifts; photos with Santa, Thomas Edison & Henry Ford; special silent auction of wreaths.  Members $50, non members $60 

•           The Twenty One Wreaths of Holiday Nights, auction featuring designers/artists who will create a holiday wreath reflecting their unique design signature.  Wreaths will be auctioned off to the highest bidder at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates Holiday Party on December 10

“In addition to the millions of dollars in improvements to the overall site, the budget for Holiday Nights is always somewhere between $30,000 and $50,000 depending on the theme and other new concepts,” says Estates spokesperson, Lisa Sbuttoni.  “We also rely on the volunteer spirit and creativity of dozens of regional groups, businesses and other volunteers for their decorating skill and contributions.”  This year, the group includes:

Southwest Florida Community Bank; GE; Florida Power and Light; Hilton Garden Inn Fort Myers; Residence Inn by Marriott, Springhill Suites by Marriot; Courtyard by Marriott Gulf Coast Town Center; City of Fort Myers; Sak’s Fifth Avenue; Sondra’s Furniture Consignments;  The Edison Restaurant; Edison Park Neighborhood Association; Edwards family and friends;  Brinson family and friends; Jeanne Dozier; Lee County Convention Bureau; Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce; Greater Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce; Margaret Sirianni; Parker/Mudgett/Smith Architects; Chris-Tel Construction; Edison Ford Winter Estates Foundation;  Goetz & Stropes Landscape Architects; South Florida Water Management District; O’Donnell Landscape Inc.; Society of Florida Landscape Architects of Southwest Florida; Smoot family and friends; Hospice of Southwest Florida, The Institute of Interior Design School, Southwest Florida College at the International Design; Southwest Florida Quilter’s Guild; Royal Palm Yacht Club; WGCU Public Media; Thompson Family; Creative Events/Taylor Rental of Fort Myers Inc.

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.