Inspiration and Experimentation at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates
The Wizard of Menlo Park did not retire to Florida to play golf. He spent his later years trying to discover a new source of rubber and planted different trees at his estate towards that end. One could imagine the then-popularized specter of a white-haired Thomas Edison holding tubes over the sapphire flames of burners and scribing the results in detailed notebooks; although in reality he then had many scientists in his hire who did most of the experiments.
When Edison wasn’t in his lab, he was on his porch drinking fruit punches with Henry Ford, the automobile titan and former Edison employee who bought the small craftsman house next door, and the naturalist John Burroughs, who jaunted with Edison into the Everglades. Industrialists, dignitaries, presidential hopefuls visited the Seminole Lodge and if you happen to be in Fort Myers I would recommend you visit the Edison & Ford Winter Estates as well.
MacGregor Boulevard divides the museum into the lab on one side and the gardens on the other. The garden holds the restored craftsman homes, a collection of antique automobiles, and benches set along the wide open water view (but take heed of the signs urging the use of mosquito repellant; the mosquitos are the size of flies and one wonders if Edison experimented on them as well); children will enjoy the hands-on displays at the museum.
The estate, like Edison himself, was full of surprises and we found much more than we expected from an estate in sleepy old Florida.