Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Edison's Winter Home: a 1920s Getaway

Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Loretta reports:

As one whose main experience of the U.S. privileged classes' vacation getaways was the Newport “cottages” of the Vanderbilts and other wealthy families, I found the hominess and simplicity of the Edison & Ford Winter estates a delightful surprise.  Instead of calling to mind French castles, it reminded me of some early 20th C beach & country getaway homes I’ve had the good fortune to stay in once or twice (not to mention my own single piece of vintage rattan furniture).  Instead of a Gilded Age mansion on a (relatively) small plot of land, these were fairly simple houses, meant to accommodate a family and a few guests.  Rather than call attention to themselves, the houses are screened by the trees of the extensive informally arranged gardens.  The d├ęcor is 1920s Unpretentious.

It was  hard to choose among the hundreds of photos my husband and I took (more photos of this and other interesting sights appear on my other blog).  I finally decided on Mina & Thomas Edison’s bedroom, to offer a sense of what the whole place was like.  Their daughter’s notice to guests bespeaks an atmosphere and attitude as down-to-earth as the furnishings.

Mina's desk holds her telephone and writing things.  Though they had phones, the Edisons wrote lots of letters.  If I understand correctly, the Edisons' home, unlike Ford's, contains the original furnishings.  Other rooms boast beautiful gramophones.


Lauren Gilbert said...

I lived in Ft Myers for years, and took many friends to visit the Edison & Ford Homes. Edison's winter home and the gardens are very interesting, and contain many of the Edison's furnishings (including Mrs Edison's stuffed birds!) The laboratory and museum are absolutely fascinating. Well worth a visit. Thank you for this article! It brought back some great memories.

Anonymous said...

The E/F estates are one of our favorite FLA places. You are right about the spaciousness and unpretentious furnishings of the compound. Instructive to contrast this with the Ringling estate up in Sarasota where ostentation reigns.

LorettaChase said...

You're welcome. I hope to return, though my time here might run out too quickly for that. Meanwhile, thanks for the warning, Anonymous, about Ringling. Headed to Sarasota in a few says, and I might do a compare & contrast. Pretentious is also entertaining!

Connie said...

I live in Fort Myers and have toured the Edison Home and Gardens several times. It is something you never tire of seeing. In recent years, the homes have received some work to keep them in good order. The gardens are fabulous with trees and plants from all over the world. The huge Banyan trees in the front are breath-taking and Edison’s museum of many of his inventions is not to be missed.

Historical Ken said...

Edison's Fort Meyer's laboratory has been relocated to Dearborn, Michigan in Henry Ford's Greenfield Village:

Amelia Mansfield said...

To second Ken's comment, I grew up not to far from Greenfield Village in Michigan and it is an excellent place to visit for anyone historically inclined. I always feel close to Edison having visited his laboratory there but the range of houses, working glassblowers and weavers and the steam railroad make the whole experience worthwhile if you're ever in that area.

Debbie Watley said...

The Rules for the Guests are hilarious! I wonder if her parents and the guests enjoyed them as much as I did.

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