Thomas A. Edison Congregational Church
A Brief Background of TAECC
Rev. O.T. Anderson came to Fort Myers as a missionary (church planter) and founded the Community Congregational Church in 1925. The church was part of the National Council of Congregational Churches in the United States. Initial services were held in the Ritz Theatre and later the Arcade Theatre.
The first church building was built in 1925 about a block off McGregor Blvd. The building, now a private residence still stands at 1462 Alhambra Ave. The first floor served as the church and the second floor as the pastor’s residence. The denomination provided both a grant and a loan enabling the construction.
In 1930 efforts were made to purchase building lots on this site. The church is built on four lots that were owned by Newton – Whitcomb Properties. Dr. Robley Newton (Thomas Edison’s local physician) and Henry Whitcomb were members of the church. The Newton’s and Whitcomb’s made the purchase of the land possible. Again the denomination provided a grant and a loan to make it all possible. This church was the only building constructed in Edison Park during the depression.
The first service held here was November 1, 1931. Our neighbor and friend of Pastor Anderson, Thomas A. Edison, unfortunately passed away October 18th and never saw the church realized. Edison’s wife, Mina continued to be a part of the church during its initial years. Following Thomas Edison’s death Mrs. Edison and her sister Mrs. Grace Hitchcock attended the church regularly during the winter months. Grace became a member.
In 1964 the congregation changed the church to the Thomas A. Edison Congregational Church in his honor. In 1976 the church was declared a Historical Site by the Florida State House of Representatives.
In 1980, the church joined the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches and is a member of its Florida association. The congregation is a self-governing church where duties and responsibilities are shared by all the members free from external control.
Congregational Churches originated in England in the 16th Century, though they were not called Congregational until the 18th Century. Some in the state-controlled Church sought to reform the church from within and were called Puritans. Others left the established Church and became known as Separatists. A group of Separatists sailed to America in 1620 on the Mayflower. We know them as the Pilgrims. In time, Puritans arrived to found the Massachusetts Bay Colony. There they united with the Separatist Pilgrims laying the groundwork for the founding of many Congregational Churches.