This week I wanted to tell you about Henry Ford, the other half of the mighty inventors. Both Ford and Edison spent their winter months in Fort Myers Beach next door to each other. Actually Edison lived there first, but he invited his good friend, Henry Ford down to visit. When the home next door went on the market, the owner asked Mr. Edison if his friend, Mr. Ford would be interested in purchasing the estate. Henry Ford did.
|View of the house|
|rear view of the house|
Henry Ford (July 30, 1863-April 7, 1947) is famous for inventing the first automobile, the Model T in 1908. What most people do not know is that Henry Ford started working as an engineer with the Edison Illuminating Company in 1891. Not long after, he was promoted to chief engineer and spent time working on his own experiments for internal combustion engines. His first big invention was called the “Quadricycle” whih was like a bicycle with 4 wheels. Of course, we all know he wasn’t the first to design a motorcar, but in the United States, he was the first to push Americans towards driving.
The Ford Motor Company was started in 1903. Henry Ford could only make a few cars at a time. Each car was made to order and this took time. Valuable time that could be used doing more research. With the invention of the assembly line, producing more cars at a time was now possible. He created interchangeable parts, standardization, and a division of labor so different pieces would be constructed by different people. Soon he had to build a factory to produce the cars people were demanding. Where better to build his company than in his home town of Dearborn, Michigan.
He married Clara Bryant in 1888 and had a son, Edsel Bryant Ford in 1893. Edsel would start working for his father when he was 12 and actually took over the company when he was 25.
Henry actually started the Henry Ford Company in 1901, but left after disputes with bankers. The company becomes the Cadillac Motor Car Company and he started his own company in 1903 (like mentioned above). By 1918, half the automobiles in the country were Fords. In 1914, he offered his workers $5 a day, which is like $120 a day today. This was unheard of and caused quite a stir from a man who did not believe in unions. His own company did not join the UAW until 1941.
|former caretaker's cottage|
Let’s take a spell and visit the home where he spent his winter months with his good friend, Thomas Edison. His home was called The Mangoes because of the many mango trees on the land. Ford first came to Fort Myers in 1914 to visit his friend. The man who lived next door, Robert Smith, sold the property to him for $20,000. He continued to visit the estate until 1934. Finally in 1945, he sold the estate to Thomas Biggar. Ford’s son, Edsel had died in 1943 and he turned the company over to his grandson in 1945. Two years later, in 1947, Ford himself would die of a cerebral hemorrhage.
|porch facing the river|
The pool was actually remodeled by Ford himself. Edison’s original lab was actually sold to Ford, who moved the entire building to his Greenfield Village in Michigan. Where you see the Moonlight Garden and small office is where the original lab once stood.
|Henry and Clara's bedroom|
The furniture was actually sold at auction when Ford sold the estate, so what you see are representations of furniture which was once there.
In the garage you can see two of Ford’s automobiles. Ford gave a Model T to Edison as a gift of their long friendship.
|This tree is bigger than it looks - a whole|
person could fit between those roots!
|see the phonograph on the right?|
|hat box in secretary's room|
|secretary's room and shared bath|
|the maid's room|
The caretaker’s home is now a gift shop.