Come celebrate Henry Ford’s birthday with us on July 30! The day will start off with a free presentation about Ford at 11:30 a.m. on the museum porch. Cookies and lemonade will be served. After the presentation, visitors have the option of taking a tour (regular admission rates apply).
Both guided and self-guided tours are available and visitors can learn about the inventions of both Ford and Edison and how the two men became acquainted. During tours, site historians explain that Ford worked for Thomas Edison, they became research partners and eventually very good friends. Many other details are described, including how the two inventors first met at a convention in New York in 1896. At that meeting, Ford described his first automobile, the quadricycle, and Edison encouraged him to continue with his experiments. That encouragement catapulted Ford’s career and changed the direction of the automobile industry.
Ford introduced the Model A in 1903 and the Model T, one of the best-selling cars of all time, in 1908. Several antique Ford vehicles are on site, including a 1923 Model T, a 1929 Model A, a 1917 Model TT, and a 1916 Model T, which was Edison’s personal car that Ford gave to him. Automotive tours with a demonstration of how to start an antique car are offered on Monday mornings.
Ford first visited Edison in Fort Myers in 1914. Two years later, he and his wife, Clara, purchased the Craftsman-style bungalow for $20,000. The home was nicknamed “The Mangoes” for the many Mango trees on the property. Ford and Edison were among the first snowbirds and spent many winters together along the Caloosahatchee River. Their adjacent retreats provided a place for the friends to relax, discuss business and innovation, entertain friends and of course, square dance — one of Ford’s favorite pastimes.
The City of Fort Myers purchased the Ford estate in 1988 and opened it to the public in 1990. The not-for-profit organization, Edison and Ford Winter Estates, Inc. was formed in 2006. Today, visitors can tour the 15,000-square-foot inventions museum, the National Historic Chemical Landmark research laboratory and the winter homes of both Edison and Ford — all on more than 20 acres of botanical gardens. Visit the website for tour times and admission rates.