Florida’s first Gilded Age luxury estate — Stetson Mansion — was built in DeLand for famed hatmaker John B Stetson in 1886.
“The largest and grandest home in Florida before 1900 was also the most advanced, the first to be designed with electricity, steam heat and hot and cold running water,” said Michael Solari, co-owner and architectural historian of the mansion.
On a guided group tour, explore three floors that include Victorian, Moorish and Gothic elements throughout. No rooms of the home are off limits, as well.
“Visitors are treated like guests and even invited to sit on the furniture,” Solari said.
The mansion boasts 10,000 panes of original glass keyhole windows and 16 patterns of the nation’s most rare parquet wood floors. The rest of the estate’s 2.3 acres feature gardens, gazebos, fountains, patios, pools, schoolhouse, green house and carriage house.
“Guests will enjoy commentary that includes history and restoration details,” Solari said. “They will experience a stunning mansion where 95% of the original building is preserved while every modern convenience has seamlessly been incorporated for modern living.”
Built in a Polynesian style, the schoolhouse was created for the Stetson children. Today, the structure is a Zen guesthouse and includes a meditation garden next to it.
The original carriage house is no longer a part of the current estate, but a new one was built to replicate the mansion’s architecture. The green house, however, sits in its original placement and was updated after being in disrepair.
Stetson Manion’s “Christmas Spectacular!” was named the No. 1 Holiday Home Tour in Florida and the No. 3 Holiday Home Tour in America by USA Today.
“Elegant displays in 10 themed rooms are completely different each year,” Solari said. “The Christmas tour is on Fodors and Bob Vila’s top 10 lists, so it does sell out.”
Christmas tours operate November 1 to Jan. 16 and can handle groups of up to 100 per tour time.
Stetson Mansion is a National Historic Place and named Florida’s Most Historic Home. Guides can accommodate groups of up to 25 at a time.
For more information call 386-873-0167 or got to stetsonmansion.com. •