A visit to the iconic Stetson Mansion in DeLand, Florida, is a fun holiday activity to put on your calendar. The Stetson Mansion was the Victorian architectural gem that was the winter home of cowboy hat mogul, John B. Stetson. The price of the tour is $25 plus tax, and is available year round. During the tour, a guide narrates and shares some personal stories while leading you through Florida’s grandest estate. I was glad to share in the holiday festivities and witness their amazing decorations, featuring owner J.T. Thompson’s over-the-top sense of style and opulence.
My friend, Julie, and I reserved our trip online and paid cash at the door upon arrival. Our guide, Debbie Pixley, started promptly and began the tour in my favorite room of all, the reception room or the Northern Lights “Frozen” room. The room sparkled and shone with flocked trees and pine branches, flickering live candles, blue and white lights, fur, feathers, and crystals, while a beautiful player piano dueled up holiday tunes. Many sponsors have helped with the decorating and donated items. Their collaborative efforts are reflected in the detail of each and every room.
In the kitchen, we were welcomed by a “Christmas in Japan” celebration amidst the gorgeous cranberry colored Viking appliances. We peeked into the upstairs bathroom where Frosty seemed to be enjoying a bubble bath, then moved on to the bride and groom suites. The groom’s suite was decorated in a “Cowboy Fantasy Christmas” theme and included a Johnny Cash signed guitar and many Stetson hats. The “Christmas Bride’s Suite” was Hollywood glam adorned with many delicate jewels, crystals, sparkles, and grandeur. The ladies actually swooned as they entered the room.
Back on the first floor, the dining room held flocks of birds, candles, and cages in a busy, but lovely display entitled “The Capturing of Christmas”. The music room had been turned into “Mrs. Clause’s Christmas Quilting Workshop”; featuring a sewing display with vintage sewing machines and quilts. There were holiday decorations in and on every surface. Just to give you an idea of the magnitude of this project, it took 9 hours to decorate a single fireplace mirror.
Our guide Debbie was jolly and just plain out terrific, sharing her enthusiasm for the owners and property as well. JT himself popped in our tour a couple times and was just as friendly as could be; you can tell he loves what he does and it shows through his work. JT’s partner Michael Solari has co-owned the 1886 Stetson Mansion since 2005. The pair has completely renovated the entire mansion and grounds on a shoestring budget. The mansion included a schoolhouse where the Stetson children had been tutored, which had been recently been converted into a charming cottage. We also caught a glimpse of the inviting swimming pool and deck.
The mansion tour was well organized. I can see why TripAdvisor chose this destination as the most popular attraction in Florida. The selection was based on quality, quantity, and relevancy of received reviews. The town of DeLand is a nice place to visit, too, and I suggest stopping there on your way to or from the mansion tour. Overall, this was a fun Christmas activity, a great bang for the buck, and a nice day trip to enjoy in sunny Florida.
Do not forget to tip your tour guide and they welcome and appreciate all comments and feedback you may have. Reserve your spot today. Holiday tour runs through January 15th.
A bit of trivia for you. In the 1880’s, the Stetson’s hosted affluent families such as the Astors, Mellons, Flaglers, Vanderbilt’s, and President Grover Cleveland, among many others. Another friend, whose treasures can still be shared at the mansion, was inventor Thomas Edison, who supervised the electric install at the mansion. The Stetson home was one of the first in the world to be fitted with Edison electric. Some of the original light fixtures and electrical box are on display at the mansion.
The Stetson Mansion Photo Gallery:
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