A Little Bit of Fort Myers History
Fort Myers is the gateway to Southwest Florida and the Everglades. It has a long history that goes back to the Indians and the cowboys and evolved into a winter vacation get-away that became the thriving community it is today. Much of the history is found in the early real estate that has survived the years and allowed us to be virtual citizens of the time. There are nine individual houses and properties that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places although only three of them are open to the public – The Edison Estate, Ford Estate and the Murphy-Burroughs House.
The Edison and Ford Estates are located next door to each other at 2350 McGregor Boulevard in the outskirts of Fort Myers. They are open to the public from 9:00 AM until 5:30 PM. The general admission provides visitors with a map of the property, admission to both estates and a self-guided tour of the gardens, the museum and the laboratory. The map highlights areas in the 20 acre property with historical significance. The admission fee is $20 for adults, $15 for teens 13-19 and $12 for children 6-12. The tour usually takes about 2-1/2 hours.
There are also guided tours of the estates – a garden tour, a laboratory tour, an estate tour, and a historian tour. Each tour has its own fee and timetable and can be found at www.edison&fordestates.org. One of the tours is the Young Inventors Tour at 11:00 AM on Saturdays. This is an interesting and unusual experience with a docent overseeing the youngsters (of any age) doing some hands-on science projects that study the Edison’s and Ford’s inventions. This tour can be a separate tour or part of the Historian tour or Estates tour.
The Burroughs Home is located at 2505 First Street in the River District of Fort Myers. It is the only home of its time still in the original location on 2.45 acres overlooking the Caloosahatchee River. It is authentic to the period with original furniture, pictures and furnishings. It is a snapshot of 1901. The tour host and hostess will share colorful tales of living at that time in a luxury setting amongst a brawny population. At the end of the tour you can sit on a rocker on the veranda overlooking the river. The tours are at 11:00 AM on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The fee is $12 for adults and $5 for children 6-12.
Fort Myers Historic Walking Tours
In addition to the real estate tours there are a number of historic walking tours around small areas of the city. They all start at the Franklin Shops on First Street in Fort Myers – just down the street from the Burroughs home. You can find out about all the tours by calling them at 239 945 0405 or going to www.truetours.net.
Here are three tours to start with:
The River District Tour is every Wednesday and Saturday from 10:30 AM to Noon. It covers the homes and somewhat murky activities of the city founders in their luxury playgrounds. This was a rough and tumble place and the history reflect that. The fee is $13.
The Legends and Legacies Tour is on Friday from 10:30 AM to Noon. It introduces the women who transformed the city from a cowboy town to the cultural center of Southwest Florida. There are many tales ranging from the lusty appetites to the afternoon teas. The fee is $16.
The Haunted History Tour is on Wednesday and Saturday from 8:00 to 9:30 PM. It covers several buildings where the tenants had some difficulty and the result – today – is their unusual goings-on – reputed paranormal activities by those who can’t or won’t leave the building they lived in. The fee is $14.