When you hear that a Florida attraction is the most popular in the state, you generally think about the theme parks. After all, people come from all over the world to visit them. So when TripAdvisor named DeLand’s Stetson Mansion as the Sunshine State’s top attraction, everyone was more than a little shocked. Not because it didn’t deserve the honor, but because things like that don’t happen to attractions without multi-million dollar budgets.
But it did happen and the resulting buzz means more people than ever are getting to know Florida’s first luxury estate.
A little background:
Stetson Manson is the most opulent of the large homes built in 19th century Florida. The 10,000 square foot, three story home sits on two sprawling acres, among gazebos, fountains, patios a pool and lush landscaping. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Noted architect George Pearson designed the Mansion in 1886 as a winter home for John B. Stetson, the creator of the hat of the same name. In its heyday, Stetson Mansion was where the rich and famous partied – folks like the Vanderbilts, the Mellons and the Carnegies. Presidents, Kings and Barons stopped by as well.
Not too many years ago, the Mansion that had once entertained society’s finest had all but fallen into ruin. While it retained many fabulous features, everything needed either extensive repair or at the very least, updating. It was a daunting task, but not to the new owners who purchased it in 2005. If anyone thought DeLand would be best served by tearing down the structure, it certainly wasn’t J.T. Thompson and Michael Solari.
Both put their hearts and souls into restoring the building and restore they did. Today DeLand’s most treasured home is breathtaking. It’s regarded as one of America’s top 300 historic homes. Thompson and Solari not only live in the home, they share it with visitors. The daily tours have become a must see for anyone visiting Central Florida and the Owner’s Tours, led by Thompson always sell out.
Stetson Mansion recently opened its doors to hosting weddings and banquets, and it’s acted as a backdrop for a number of television commercials.
The completely renovated Mansion is a sight to behold. I would say it was restored to its former grandeur, but in many ways, it is better than the original. It’s a must see.
And if you are in the area around the Christmas holidays, it’s the most elaborately decorated home you’ll find anywhere. If Stetson Mansion doesn’t spark your spirt, nothing will.
Tours times are posted on the website. The 90 minute guided visit is $20 per person for the regular tour and $30 for the Grand tour which includes the 3rd floor. Students pay $10. Groups, clubs and other organizations should call for a special group rate.
1031 Camphor Lane, Deland, FL 32720
To register for a tour: 386.873.0167