Not to long ago I told ya’ll that my fiancé and I went down to Fort Myers for a day to see what the city had to offer. I already told you about how much I loved spotting manatees at Manatee Park. The other event of the day we both loved was our visit to the Edison and Ford Winter Estates.
Now, first, I want to tell you, in all honesty, I was skeptical of how cool this could really be. I am a big fan of history but I wasn’t sure walking around a couple of old houses would be my type of a good time and I was nervous my fiancé was going to flat-out hate it.
Nearly every guide I looked at about visiting Fort Myers had the Edison and Ford Winter Estates as the number one, best thing to do. I am so glad we gave into the hype because we both had a great time and agreed it was way cooler than we ever imagined it would be!
While the houses were incredible, The Edison and Ford Winter Estates were way more than just the houses. The Estates include 20 acres of historical buildings, historic gardens, the Edison Botanic Research Lab and the Edison/Ford Museum.
Thomas Edison bought the property in 1885 during a visit to Florida thinking it would be the perfect spot for a vacation home. Later in 1916 Edison’s good friend, Henry Ford, bought the adjoining property. The Edison estate remained in the family until 1947, when Edison’s Wife, Mina Edison, deeded the property to the city of Fort Myers in memory of her husband for the enjoyment of the public. It was opened for public tours soon after. By 1988, the adjacent Henry Ford winter estate was purchased for $1.5 million and opened for public tours in 1990.
In 2003, the governance of the site was transferred from the city of Fort Myers to a new non-profit corporation, whose mission is to protect, preserve the site for future growth and development. After the transfer, the Estates successfully completed a $10 million restoration project in the following years.
The coolest thing for me was how real and life-like the houses were. They were perfectly staged and set up just as if the Edison and Ford families had stepped out for a brief minute and we were nosey neighbors popping our heads into their windows.
All the furniture, appliances, clothing, bedding, everything was all antique and fit perfectly for the time frame there were trying to showcase. Anyone who is a history fan like me will be floored with how amazingly well these houses have been persevered and restored.
I loved how thorough our tour was without being boring, which can be a tricky line to walk when it comes to history. I learned so much not only about the history of the houses and the properties, but about both Edison and Ford in their respective career fields, their families, their personalities, and their friendship with one another. It truly was like stepping back in time.
I’m not hugely into plants and flowers, but I have to mention the incredible horticulture throughout the entire property. Even I noticed how gorgeous the trees and gardens surrounding the estates were. I also learned the Edison and Ford Estates are a highly sought after location for everything from weddings to corporate functions.
Like I said above, both me and my fiancé were blown away by how much we enjoyed visiting the Edison and Ford Estates. We learned a valuable lesson in never writing experiences off as “not our style”.
More Things to Know
- the estates are open daily from 9am to 5:30pm
- there are many different tour options available for whatever your interests are
- we took the self-guided audio tour for $20 a person and it was perfect for us
- budget anywhere from 2-3 hours for your tour and for walking around other areas