Edison and Ford Winter Estates, Fort Myers,FL
Award Type: Trustee Emeritus Award for Excellence in the Stewardship of Historic Sites
For a while, the small town of Fort Myers was the winter home of two of the most famous men in the world. The famous residents are gone, but the homes and gardens they loved remain as models of sensitive stewardship and top-quality interpretation.
More than a hundred years ago, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, two of history's most inventive and influential geniuses, were good friends and next-door neighbors with side-by-side winter homes in Fort Myers, FL. Today, the place they loved is a sprawling complex of buildings and gardens managed by the nonprofit Edison & Ford Winter Estates, Inc. With exemplary vision and dedication, the organization spent $10 million over three years in an effort that rescued the site from deterioration and reinvented it as a premier education center and community resource.
Over the years, millions of visitors and Florida's rain and high humidity compromised both estates. By 1993, they suffered from major water and termite damage. The rehabilitation initially called for the emergency preservation of the historic wood buildings but expanded to include shoreline, seawall and landscape restoration. With guidance from a comprehensive master plan, nine buildings and almost 20 acres of lush tropical gardens were returned to their original 1929 appearance.
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