Edison & Ford Winter Estates Awarded $50,000 Grant


Chris Pendleton, President & CEO
Lisa Sbuttoni, PR/Marketing Director

Photo attachments:   Exterior and interior of Edison Botanic Research Lab in Fort Myers, FL; Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and Harvey Firestone on steps of Edison Botanic Research Lab

Edison & Ford Winter Estates Awarded $50,000 Grant

Fort Myers, FL (August 16, 2010) - The Edison & Ford Winter Estates has been awarded a $50,000 preservation grant for Restoration of the Edison Botanic Laboratory by the Florida Legislature through the Bureau of Historic Preservation, Division of Historical Resources, Florida Department of State, assisted by the Florida Historical Commission.  The Edison Botanic Laboratory is located at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers, Florida.

The Edison Botanic Laboratory was a project of Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone who were searching for a viable source of organic rubber which could be grown and produced in southwest Florida.   Through their work, they discovered that goldenrod leaves would produce the latex to be distilled for a commercial source of rubber.  The Laboratory and the surrounding research gardens were active in the 1920’s and 1930’s and established the winter homes of the two inventors as a center for plant research.  Today, the site is one of the most visited historic home sites in America and serves more than 200,000 visitors and school children every year.

The grant from the State of Florida is part of a total $630,000 project for restoration of the original 1928 laboratory structure.  Additional funds have also been received from The 1772 Foundation, HUD EDI grants, the Edison Ford Winter Estates Foundation, and the Edison & Ford Winter Estates, Inc.

It is planned that the laboratory building will re main open throughout the project.  Architects for the project are Parker Mudgett Smith.   Chris-Tel Company is the restoration contractor.

Last year, the Edison & Ford Winter Estates received the top award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation for restoration of the Edison and Ford buildings along the river, and this year the site received the top national award for restoration of the historic landscape from the National Garden Clubs Inc.

The Estates is open daily from 9:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.  The Estates 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.

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The Estates has received grants from the Historical Museums Grants-in-Aid Program through the Bureau of Historical Museums, Division of Natural Resources, Florida Department of State and Secretary of State and the Lee County Tourist Development Council.