Edison Botanical Research Laboratory Dedication

05/13/2014

Edison Botanical Research Laboratory at Edison & Ford Winter Estates to be recognized as a National Historic Chemical Landmark

Edison Botanical Research Laboratory

Chris Pendleton, President & CEO
Lisa Sbuttoni, PR/Marketing Director
239-334-7419

Photos:  Edison Botanical Research Laboratory, photo by Mike Shapiro

 Edison Botanical Research Laboratory at Edison & Ford Winter Estates to be recognized as a National Historic Chemical Landmark, May 25, 2014

FORT MYERS, Fla. (May 13, 2014) The American Chemical Society (ACS) will recognize the Edison Botanical Research Laboratory at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates as a National Historic Chemical Landmark on Sunday, May 25, 2014, from 2 – 4 p.m. The public is invited to attend the event. 
 
“Because of Edison’s contribution to chemistry, we have been designated as the first site in Florida and only one of a few in the nation.   We are a scientific site as well as a beautiful estate and garden,” says Edison Ford President & CEO Chris Pendleton. 
 
Following World War I, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Harvey Firestone became concerned about America’s dependence on foreign sources of rubber for its industrial enterprises. As a result, the three men formed the Edison Botanic Research Corporation in Fort Myers in 1927 to investigate a source of rubber that could be domestically produced. The following year, Edison built the botanic laboratory where more than 17,000 plant samples from the United States and the world were analyzed for their latex content. One group of plants—Solidago, commonly known as goldenrod—was selected as the most promising. Edison’s team crossbred species to increase their rubber content and tested industrial production.
 
The celebration will include an unveiling of the plaque designating the site; family-friendly science activities and demonstrations with the Edison Ford Wild Wizard, Chemists and Scientists from ACS; and continuous “Inside the Lab” tours led by curators and scientists. 
 
As the primary research site, the Edison Ford curatorial team and consultants worked with other sites.  Additional celebrations of Edison’s work in chemistry will be held by the ACS at the present-day locations of his laboratories. Edison’s West Orange laboratory complex will be commemorated at the Thomas Edison National Historical Park in West Orange, New Jersey, on June 6, 2014. Edison’s Menlo Park laboratory will be recognized at The Henry Ford, Greenfield Village, in Dearborn, Michigan, on September 20, 2014.  “It was in Fort Myers that Edison was able to establish the seed collection system, raise the rubber plants, harvest them, formulate the chemical process and invent new processes and machinery to support the project,” says Edison Ford Chief Curator Alison Giesen.   
 
The American Chemical Society established the National Historic Chemical Landmarks program in 1992 to recognize important achievements in the history of the chemical sciences. Subjects recognized through this program have included Bakelite, the world’s first synthetic plastic; the discovery and development of penicillin; and the work of historical figures such as Joseph Priestley, George Washington Carver and Rachel Carson. This will be the first National Historic Chemical Landmark recognized in Florida. More information visit www.acs.org/landmarks.

The Edison Ford is open daily from 9:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. The Edison Ford is the winner of the 2009 National Stewardship Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and is an official project of “Save America’s Treasures” at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a Florida Historic Landmark and a National Register Historic Site. For additional information call 239-334-7419 or visit the web site at www.edisonfordwinterestates.org.