Around the turn of the last century, America’s wealthiest businessmen built winter homes in the state of Florida. Inventor Thomas Edison was no exception.

While his primary home was in West Orange, New Jersey, Edison spent many winters at the tropical home he dubbed “Seminole Lodge.”

He purchased land along the Caloosahatchee River near Fort Myers in 1885 and used a pencil to sketch out how he wanted the home to look. Lumber for the house was pre-cut in Maine and transported by ship to the site where local laborers assembled the Main House and a Guest House.

The expansive property includes Edison’s Moonlight Garden Study, pool, coconut grove and Botanical Research Laboratory, which served as the headquarters for Edison and his staff. (The lab is so impressive, it’s worth the price of admission all by itself.)

A Banyan tree planted in 1927 is understood to be one of the largest in the continental United States and really has to be seen in person to soak in its beauty and grandeur.

Edison’s friend Henry Ford, the man who single handedly revolutionized the transportation industry with the Model T, purchased the home next door in 1916. It’s included with the tour.

To plan your visit, go to EdisonFordWinterEstates.org.