Monday, August 29, 2011

Thomas Edison's Winter Retreat

While we were escaping Hurricane Irene, we had the opportunity to visit Thomas Edison's winter retreat on the Caloosahatchee River in Fort Myers.  He wanted a warm escape during the winter months from his New Jersey home base.
This banyan tree was a gift from tire industrialist Harvey Firestone in 1925.  When Edison planted the tree it was 4 feet high and 2 inches in diameter.  Now, it is an acre in diameter and is the largest banyan tree in the continental United States.  (Maui has a larger banyan tree.)
Edison purchased 13 acres along the river and created an estate that included two homes and a laboratory.  He called his home Seminole Lodge and the Edison family wintered here from 1886 through 1947.
The living room is located in the family wing of the lodge.
There are 15 "Electrolier" lighting fixtures located throughout the two homes.  They are Edison's own design.
Edison's wife, Mina, had her own bedroom on the ground floor.  The other bedrooms were located on the second floor but we weren't allowed to see them.
The guest house is connected to the family wing via a covered walkway.
The ground floor of the guest wing has a sitting/game room connected to the dining room.
Some of the well-known guests who stayed in the guest house included President Herbert Hoover, Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone.
Their meals were prepared in this kitchen.
Edison's daughter, Madelaine, had her own set of rules all guests had to abide by.  I think I would have liked her!
The back of the house looks out over the Caloosahatchee (no, that's not misspelled) River where the entire family loved to fish.
They had their own dock that extended far out into the shallow river.
I guess the river wasn't good enough for swimming in because they had a pool installed in 1910.
Edison had a small office on the west grounds of the Seminole Lodge in addition to the one at his laboratory.
Mina created a Moonlight Garden as an extension of Edison's office.
Only part of the Caretaker's House existed when Edison purchased the property.  It had been used as a stopover for cattle drovers moving herds down the road to Punta Rassa for shipment to Cuba.  The Edisons expanded the building to accommodate staff.
We ended up our tour in Edison's laboratory.  Naturally, this was the highlight of the tour for Hubby!

Next time:  Henry Ford's winter estate.



  1. What a neat place! I have seen that largest Banyan in Maui!! They are cool trees!!

  2. HI Candy! Hope all is well after this terrible storm but what a lovely place to meander to! The house is really pretty and the grounds are so lush.
    I think I'd like Edison's daughter too! ;)
    Thanks for popping in to see me.
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

  3. What an interesting place. It's nice to see how past famous Americans lived. The home looks comfy and inviting and quite the place to spend the summer.


  4. We really enjoyed our visit there. I found some of those trees and their roots very interesting. Thanks for the revisit.

  5. Hi Candy,
    You are going to such neat places. I love hearing about your travels. I know I would love visiting his house.

  6. Wow!!! What a house and property!! I was really amazed by the banyan tree. So now we have a really neat "must see" place to visit!! Thanks for the great tour of the Edison winter home!

  7. I enjoyed seeing your photos of that interesting place. The living room of the home looks so comfy and shiny clean. I can understand why you chose to visit there. Have a great week. Shannon

  8. Great tour! We were there two years ago. I think one of the things I liked the best was the Banyan trees with those wild roots.

  9. Wow! Now that's a great getaway spot!! Beautiful house! And just think it was probably the only one around that was all lit up in the evening....That must've been some sight!? I would've love to see that lab too! And Madelaine was a hoot! I would've like her too. Vanna

  10. I bet Richard really enjoyed the laboratory! What an awesome tour. Thanks!