Days on cruise: 271
Thursday was a play day. Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, very close friends and collaborators on numerous projects, both owned winter homes in Fort Myers long before it was any more than an unknown spot on the map. Edison bought his property in 1885, built his home, and his family enjoyed winters here until 1947 when his wife deeded the property to the City of Fort Myers for $1.00. It still contains all of the original furnishings.
Seminole Lodge, as the house was known, is a beautiful example of a post-and-beam home built from wood pre-cut in Maine and transported by ship to Fort Myers. It sits on the shore of the Caloosahatchee River just blocks from the marina where we’re staying downtown.
The many acres include a main home, a guest house, Edison’s office (on the footprint where his laboratory used to stand), a Caretaker’s cottage, some formal gardens, a 1500-foot pier (now mostly gone) and a pool with adjacent pool house.
Covered walkways connect the two buildings that make up the Edison’s home.
This Mysore Fig is more impressive than the photo shows. The roots are five feet tall and appear almost more architectural than botanical.
There are huge numbers of Royal Palms, 13 varieties of bamboo (whose fibers Edison used as filaments in his electricity experiments), and thousands of other plants and trees. Edison participated in experiments with Ford and Harvey Firestone, another friend, to test thousands of plants to identify the one that would yield the most rubber to meet the growing American demand for this product, to be grown domestically.
Henry Ford acquired the home next door to Edison’s in 1916, named The Mangoes for the many mango trees on the property. It’s much smaller, both house and property, but equally elegant for its’ time, and the fact that it was only used two weeks each year.
Both homes are built to take full advantage of breezes coming from any direction, as air conditioning didn’t exist.
Statues of Thomas Edison and his wife Mina are on the property. Eidson was an astonishing genius who eventually held over 1,300 U.S. patents, and in addition to the light bulb, he was responsible for inventing early versions of phonographs, still cameras, film cameras and movie projectors.
It was a highly educational afternoon, and these men, who also enjoyed camping, boating, fishing and traveling together boggle the mind in their huge accomplishments and contributions to modern life.