Places that Work

Thomas Edison’s and Henry Ford’s winter estates are places that work because they recognize and respect the natural environments in which they are located.  Most of the rooms in the original buildings are entered directly from outside and there are few interior corridors. Daylight comes in through these doors which also invite errant breezes that circulate the air inside; the generously proportioned windows work the same way.

From inside, the windows reveal views of lush gardens and a river that forms one border of the property. The daylight and views combine to make this a place where the legendary inventor-tycoons could restock their mental and physical energies and boost their spirits after months of hard work in northern climates.


The high ceilings allow hot air to rise and the wide verandas are shaded, in this way both the indoor and outdoor spaces provide cool areas for relaxing in the hot, restorative climate. The Edison and Ford winter estates are located in Ft. Myers, Florida, are a National Register Historic Site, Florida Historic Landmark, and not surprisingly, winners of the National Trust for Historic Preservation Restoration Award.

Sally Augustin, PhD, is a principal at Design with Science . She is also the editor of Research Design Connections and the author of Place Advantage: Applied Psychology for Interior Architecture (Wiley, 2009). She can be reached at

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