Written by Ellen Buckman
Last year, the Edison & Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers, Florida received our Trustee Emeritus Award for Excellence in the Stewardship of Historic Sites at the National Preservation Conference in Tulsa. This winning restoration is now being showcased at a FREE community event at the Estates this Saturday, April 18.
This important restoration culminates a 5-year, $20 million effort to restore these side-by-side winter residences of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford back to the 1920’s lifestyle of their famous families and to shed light on the personal lives and friendship of two of America’s greatest inventors and industrialists. The 20-acre riverside campus provided these close friends respite, inspiration and a staging place for collaboration. Thanks to the completed restoration, visitors can now tour and see both houses, Edison’s personal laboratory where he worked on more than 1,000 inventions during his winter visits, his tropical research and botanical garden, one of the earliest above ground residential swimming pools in southwest Florida, the award winning Moonlight Garden, and a 20,000 sq. ft. museum displaying hundreds of Edison and Ford objects.
Prior to receiving the stewardship award, the Estates had a long-standing relationship with National Trust for Historic Preservation and our Save America’s Treasures (SAT) program -- in 1999 it was awarded an early seed grant from the Preservation Planning Fund, and in 2004 SAT selected it from over a thousand others to be one of 24 sites to participate in the Restore America partnership with HGTV and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. And, for the interior, our partner Valspar donated the paint used in the restoration.
If you happen to be in south Florida this weekend, do consider joining in on their special event. The Incandescent Evening, running from 5-8 p.m., will feature some of the programs members currently enjoy including botanical printmaking, Wild Wizards Lab shows, musical performances and food. There will also be opportunities to stroll along the Calooshatchee River and explore the homes and gardens of Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and their families.
Hats off to the Estates!
Ellen Buckman is a marketing associate in the Corporate Partners department at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
To learn more about the Edison & Ford Winter Estates, or to obtain a ticket to the event, visit www.efwefla.org.
To learn more about National Trust historic paint colors by Valspar, visit www.preservationnation.org/valspar.
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