Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Thomas Edison Home in Ft Myers

Pam and I were married 32 years ago in Ft Walton Beach, FL and visited the Thomas Edison Museum in Ft Meyers while on our honeymoon.  A few days ago we got the chance to see it again.

I highly recommend it.  The foundation that took over the Edison Museum and Estate has done an excellent job.  The Edison home is near downtown Ft Meyers, has plenty of parking and the tours are all self guided using a hand-held listening device.  It is very easy.
The tour of the grounds begins outside by the huge banyon tree conspicuously marked #1.  There, you punch in '1' to the recorder/listening device and hear the recording about the banyon tree.  The estate has 20 listening spots with a recording about the history and significance of the location.

We toured the grounds which covers over 20 acres.  It includes Thomas Edison's Winter Home (Seminole Lodge), the Henry Ford Home nearby (the Mangoes), the museum and laboratory.

Thomas Edison first visited the area in 1885 and bought the land for his vacation home which is right on the Caloosahatchee River.  He laid out the plans for the estate and had lumber shipped in to build the house.
The home has a beautiful covered porch that encircles it.
Edison tested a lot of trees and plants looking for a rubber plant that would thrive in the Florida climate.  So the grounds have lots of shade and balmy breezes…
Edison's good friend Henry Ford bought adjoining property in 1916.  The bungalow style house was know as 'The Mangoes'.
Both homes were well decorated and quite impressive for that time period.  The foundation has done a great job in keeping them well maintained.   Visitors can peer inside from all sides and see the furniture and furnishings of the era.

Back in the museum and the laboratory, there are lots of interesting inventions and history on display.
One of the displays included toasters, two spigot coffee pot, iron a light/heater and lots more.  It is mind boggling to know that Thomas Edison had a 65 consecutive year string of at least one registered patent.  He holds a world record 1093 patents.  It is told that the phonograph was his favorite invention.

Toward the end of our time, we went through the museum and the rubber laboratory.
Edison was good friends with Henry Ford and later with Harvey Firestone.  Edison knew that rubber for tires and the growing automobile industry was almost entirely imported.  He could see how costly rubber was and searched for a plant that could be grown domestically.  Edison, Ford and Firestone each donated $25,000 in 1927 to support Edison's rubber research laboratory.  Unfortunately, he was never able to find a cost-effective latex producing plant to do the job.

The rubber laboratory was one of those things I remember most from our first visit to the the estate while on our honeymoon in 1979.  I also remember learning that Edison often stretched out on a laboratory table for a few hours of sleep.

Edison, Ford, Firestone, John Burroughs and others set off as a group on recreational camping trips (in their Ford cars and trucks) beginning in 1914 through the Florida Everglades.  Their group continued camping together for years and was known as the 'Vagabonds'. But we will save more on that for another day.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!  As always, we appreciate the fact that you take the time to take a look and see what we have to say.  Until next time...


  1. We have good friends in Ft. Myers right now..I will recommend this to them..thanks for the info!!

  2. We got to see his house (and Henry Ford's) last summer and enjoyed it immensely! We love the area too. It's no wonder Edison wanted a summer home there.

  3. Great history lesson. I love museums like this. Add this to my "must see" list. Thanks for the great job! ~wheresweaver

  4. Great tour! We really enjoyed our visit there!