Tuesday, December 23, 2014

"If you're only going to one Holiday Attraction make it the Stetson Mansion"


How did a cowboy hat maker from Philadelphia who sells mainly to the West end up with a Florida Mansion? These are the type of questions that you may ponder as you visit the decorated Mansion of John B Stetson built in 1886. You may want to keep in mind that we have older large homes in Florida, circa Antebellum such as Kingsley, Gamble and Bronson Mullholland or the Gonsalvez Alvarez house in St. Augustine which is pre Revolutionary War and referred to as the oldest house. However, the most popular well known opulent Mansions of Florida such as Viscaya, Pinewood, Selby, Whitehall and Ringling’s Ca' D' Zan (House of John) were all built in the 1900’s not late 1800’s like Stetson. What a job these guys have done putting this place back together again, Bravo to them! I can almost see Stetson, his hat, dog and walking stick in front of the Mansion. Wait a minute, I can see them based on one of the wonderful Jackson Walker paintings usually housed in the nearby Historic Courthouse in Deland’s Historic District sometimes referred to as the “Athens of Florida”.

Figure 1 John B. Stetson by Jackson Walker

  I think that the copper top domes of the old Southern courthouses along with 

the Greco-Roman columns Architectural Stylings 

were modeled after ancient Greece, the birthplace of Democracy.

Figure 2 Tower of the Historic Deland Courthouse

Figure 3 Corinthian Columns
Figure 4 Stetson Mansion Exterior

 The Athens Theater  has once again been restored for Shows and events in Downtown Deland! This picture hangs in the Deland House on Campus.

Figure 5 Painting of the Athens Theater
from the Gilded Age of Dress and Style.

Back view of those incredible inlaid windows

The Bamboo Meditative Garden on the Mansion premises

My favorite year to year tour selection was always Cypress Gardens with its’  4,000 twinkling lights, wonderful train exhibits, Santa through the ages, Olympic Russian Circus and Ice Skating shows, comedy, gardens and the Eye in the Sky.  However, what makes the Stetson a great substitute is that this is actually a home with ramped up decorations, themes, exquisite parquet floors, glass windows and a feel of the Holidays.  It’s kind of what you think you might want to do if you had the time, ability, finances, space and creativity.  If not it’s easier and much more reasonable to see it here since the boy’s have started over the past several years inviting us in at a reasonable rate to check it out.  And… it changes from year to year.   From pieces of the Frozen theme to Patriotism. From  Stetson Hats to collectibles.  From decked out trees to colorful islands and seas, from quilts to covers and music and lights and extended secret nooks and cranies and flights of stairs and paths to Asia and beyond. If you have the imagination you can make believe its' yours or talk to the walls of yesteryear and Stetson or other time period characters who visited. How about Grover Cleveland since he seemed to leave his mark all over Florida.  Bring the Outside in and take the inside out. Let’s do it again and again and see what they come up with next.   One of this year themes included pathways so let’s borrow one from the White Sands Buddhist Sanctuary in Mims-

 For these and other day trip ideas from the Space Coast of Florida e-mail:  Lee c/o floridagreeters@yahoo.com or visit www.dayawaytravelclub.com then highlight current calendar.
Link to 2014 Stetson Decoration Video