By Mike Miller Updated July 9, 2022
The Edison and Ford Winter Estates were tropical getaways for their
famous owners, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford.
Neither of them ever dreamed their winter homes would be included among top Florida tourist attractions.
When he was only 38 years old, Thomas Alva Edison was advised by his doctor to find a better climate.
His health was bad because he had overworked himself, and he endured those brutal New Jersey winters.
He hadn't even turned 40 yet, and he was almost burned out. Then he discovered Fort Myers, Florida.
He soon helped change Florida history.
He became one of our earliest Florida snowbirds. He bought property on the Caloosahatchee River in 1885, and a year later completed his vacation home.
The Edison family named this place "Seminole Lodge". Edison spent every winter here until he died in 1931.
Henry Ford was a good friend of Tom, and bought property next door in 1915. He built his winter home, called "The Mangoes, and spent many winters there.
Thomas Edison, Henry
Ford and Harvey Firestone worked together for many years in Florida. Firestone became a frequent visitor to Fort Myers.
These two winter homes are large, rambling buildings that represent the best of old Florida. The homes are situated on 17 acres of landscaped lawn and gardens.
Edison did much of his most important research and inventing while wintering in Fort Myers. The large museum on site has hundreds of Edison and Ford inventions and other items.
The estates include botanical gardens with 500 unique plants, trees and flowers. The also have two "champion" trees and six former champions.
The site also has a federal orchid program and a large greenhouse and nursery.
The Estates receive 225,000 visitors each year. It is one of the most popular Florida tourist attractions. It is also one of the 10 most visited national historic homes in the country.
Daily tours are conducted of the homes, museum, laboratory and gardens.
From Hwy I-75, take Exit 136 and follow Hwy 884 (Colonial Blvd.) west.
After crossing U.S.-41, move to the right lane. There are large signs indicating McGregor Blvd. Turn right onto Gregor Blvd.
Go approximately 2 miles. The Edison and Ford Winter Estates entrance is on the right, parking is on the left.
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By Mike Miller, Copyright 2009-2023
Florida Back Roads Travel is not affiliated with or endorsed by Backroads, a California-based tour operator which arranges and conducts travel programs throughout the world.