A History of Edisons and Fords in Fort Myers


1885- Thomas Alva Edison and his business partner, Ezra Gilliland arrive in the town of Fort Myers. They become so enamored with the small village that within 24-hours they decide to purchase acreage on the Caloosahatchee River. Construction begins on two identical homes constructed of pre-cut lumber from Maine. An electrical laboratory is also built for the famous inventor.

1886- Edison brings his new bride, Mina Miller Edison, to Fort Myers for a honeymoon. After three days in town at the Keystone Hotel, they move into their newly constructed home, called Seminole Lodge.

1887-1900- Thomas and Mina forego winter visits to Fort Myers because of business problems with Gilliland. However, Thomas' father and Thomas Jr., his son, visited in his absence.

1901- Thomas and Mina Edison return to Fort Myers with their children, Madeleine, Charles and Theodore.

1906- The Edisons purchase what was formerly Gilliland's winter home and convert it into a guesthouse.

1907- Edison offers to plant Royal Palm trees along Riverside Avenue. The town gratefully accepts his offer. The street is now called McGregor Blvd. and the trees still stand.

1907-1908- Seminole Lodge and the guesthouse undergo major renovations. Partitions are removed and enlarged, verandahs are establisged around the homes.

1914- The Edison family is joined by Henry, Clara, and edsel Ford, as well as naturalist John Burroughs. They enjoy a camping trip into the everglades.

1916- Henry Ford purchases a home adjacent to the Edison estate. Ford annually visits his home, called Mangoes, so he can be closer to his friend, Edison.

1925- Ford receives permission from Edison to remove the Fort Myers electrical laboratory to his Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan. The laboratory is moved in June of 1928.

1927- Edison forms the Edison Botanic Research Corporation to "carry on and conduct experiments with research work relating to the production of rubber."

1928- Edison launches into rubber experiments at his electrical laboratory. When Henry Ford removes the structure, Edison continues hus rubber prodect in a new laboratory constructed across the street.

1929- President-elect Hoover visits Edison on his birthday. The Fords and Firestones join them for a motor tour of Fort Myers.

1931- After a five-month stay in florida, the Edisons return to their New Jersey home. It would be Edison's last visit. When he died in October, Mina was at his side.

1947- Mina Edison donates Seminole Lodge to the City of Fort Myers.

1988- The City of Fort Myers purchases the Ford Home. It is restored and opened to the public in 1990.

***All of this info was supplied to me by the Edison Ford Estates.***