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Edison & Ford Winter Estates Blog

Edison & Ford Winter Estates Blog

Edison & Ford Winter Estates Programs – September 2010

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On August 24th

September at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates includes a NEW exhibit opening, the Edison & Ford Young Inventor’s Program,and NEW Home School Classes. The September schedule of activities include:

Young Inventor’s Program, Saturdays at 1:00 PM 
The Estates’ newest program offers families an interactive, hands-on inventions experience focusing on children’s science activities including the Ford assembly line; the incandescent light bulb; creating rubber and the history of the phonograph.  Due to limited space, the tour will be on a first come first serve basis and includes admission to the Lab and Museum.   Program cost is Estates Members FREE; $12 adults, $5 children ages 6 -12 and FREE to 5 and under.    

 

NEW Exhibit:  “Discovering Southwest Florida with Thomas Edison & Henry Ford” opens September 2, 2010 at Southwest Florida International Airport
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 Estates collection.   

Behind the Scenes Lab Tour for Estates Volunteers, September 15, 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.  

Edison Inventors Association Meeting, September 15, 7PM, Meeting once a month at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates, the organization serves the inventors in the community by providing education and networking opportunities.  For more information contact 239-275-IDEA (4332). 

Sneak Peek Tours return on Thursdays from September 16 – October 28, 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.

Home School Class:  Space and Rockets, September 24, 1PM
Home schooled students will study the planet Earth and its galaxy as they explore the solar system and create their own “rocket.”  The programs follow the Lee County mandated program and addresses environmental science, history and reading SOLS.  Pre-visit curriculum materials will be mailed to registered families.  Registration is required.  Cost:  Estates Members $5; non members $15 (one adult, one child), additional $5 per child.

Quilting and Stitchery Demonstration, September 25, 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.
 
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 Awarded $50,000 Grant

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On August 19th

 The Edison & Ford Winter Estates has been awarded a $50,000 preservation grant for restoration of the Edison Botanic Laboratory by the Florida Legislature through the Bureau of Historic Preservation, Division of Historical Resources, Florida Department of State, assisted by the Florida Historical Commission.  The Edison Botanic Laboratory is located at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers, Florida.

The Edison Botanic Laboratory was a project of Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone who were searching for a viable source of organic rubber which could be grown and produced in Southwest Florida.  Through their work, they discovered that goldenrod leaves would  produce the latex to be distilled for a commercial source of rubber.  The Laboratory and the surrounding research gardens were active in the 1920’s and 1930’s and established the winter homes of the two inventors as a center for plant research.  Today, the site is one of the most visited historic home sites in America and serves more than 200,000 visitors and school children every year. 

The grant from the State of Florida is part of a total $630,000 project for restoration of the original 1928 laboratory structure.  Additional funds have also been received from The 1772 Foundation, HUD EDI grants, the Edison Ford Winter Estates Foundation, and the Edison & Ford Winter Estates, Inc. It is planned that the laboratory building will re main open throughout the project. Architects for the project are Parker Mudgett Smith.  Chris-Tel Company is the restoration contractor. 

Last year, the Edison & Ford Winter Estates received the top award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation for restoration of the Edison and Ford buildings along the river, and this year the site received the top national award for restoration of the historic landscape from the National Garden Clubs Inc. 

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 – 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 Southwest Florida Residents Half Price Day

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On July 21st

Just in time for the end of summer vacation, on Saturday, August 21 from 9 AM – 5:30 PM, the Edison & Ford Winter 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 are free).  Groups of 20 or more will also receive a special ticket price but must reserve in advance by calling the Estates.  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.

In addition to an Estates tour, visitors will enjoy new Museum tours and invention demonstrations throughout the day. Demonstrations include the Edison phonograph every half hour, presentations on antique cars and tours of the Edison Research Laboratory. 
 
The Estates recently completed more than $12 million in improvements and restoration to the homes, gardens, swimming pool and other areas on both the Edison and Ford Estate.  They have been successfully managed by a new non-profit organization since 2006, the Edison & Ford Winter Estates, Inc. and have recently won both National Trust and National Garden Council top awards.
 
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.

Record Numbers Visit Estates First Quarter of 2010

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On April 12th

The Edison & Ford Winter Estates is proud to announce that January, February and March 2010 set an attendance record.  The Estates welcomed 90,658 visitors in a three month period – more than any other quarter since the Estates formed a new private corporation, the Thomas Edison & Henry Ford Winter Estates, Inc. in 2006. 

“Dramatic change, growth, award-winning restoration and dedication to program development have contributed to the success of the Estates in the past several years,” says Chris Pendleton, Estates president & CEO.  “With quarterly tour visitation up, as well as additional participation in new programs in history, science and the arts, there has been a great resurgence of interest and use of the site by visitors as well as community members.  We are delighted to have so many people come to the Estates and enjoy their visit.”

Notable numbers include:

• 12 % Increase in attendance for January, February, March 2010 over 2009
• 1,842 All time record attendance for a single day on March 17, 2010
• 22 % Increase in Estates membership
• 32% Increase in Estates Group Sales

In addition to the many achievements, awards and program growth, the site remains one of the most visited homes in America and a national treasure which American history and its commitment to innovation, invention and national pride.

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.

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.