A Florida Friday: The house that cowboy hats (and lots of other hats) built

The John B. Stetson House in DeLand, Florida; photo by Ebyabe, 1 March 2008 – Permission granted to copy, use image under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license – see https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

I love old houses, and I’m sure I am not alone in that regard.

Here in Florida, it can be a challenge to find homes over a certain age, depending on where you live, of course, especially the further south you go.

Because truly old homes are not as plentiful as up north, I periodically search for ones for sale on websites like Realtor, etc., where you can filter out results based on age and other criteria. It’s fun (IMO) to look at old home interiors you would otherwise probably never get to see. I was doing that a few days ago when I came across the John B. Stetson mansion at 1031 Camphor Lane in Deland, Volusia County, Florida. We’d been in that area a couple of times in recent years, visiting nearby De Leon Springs and Blue Springs, but had no idea the Stetson mansion, celebrated for its history and its architectural mix of Moorish, Gothic, and Tudor styles, would have been within such easy striking distance.

John Batterson Stetson (1830-1906) portrait. Wikipedia – public domain image

Who was John B. Stetson? If you have not heard of him, you may still be familiar with the Stetson hat.

Born in 1830 to a New Jersey hatter and his wife, Stetson, while still a young man, was diagnosed with tuberculosis and told he may not have much longer to live. He took off for the West, wanting to lay his eyes on that expansive majestic land while he still could. That’s when he came into contact with the region’s settlers and cowboys, who until then had largely been wearing caps made of coonskin and other furs, not very practical. Returning home to Philadelphia, he came up with the Stetson hat, and started turning them out in 1865. They sold like hotcakes and became known as “the boss of the plains.”

The Holly Standard, March 8, 1883 (Credit: http://www.fultonhistory.com)

Stetson lived well into his seventies and along the way became known for his generosity as an employer and a philanthropist. His hat-making business had treated him well. His company survived and thrived, and it’s still going strong today: https://www.stetson.com

Seeing as how Stetson’s Florida mansion, built in 1886, is up for sale (for $4.7 million), this is an ideal time to get a look inside at the interior without paying an admission fee and without having to physically go there. The sellers purchased the house a decade ago and completely restored and renovated it.  The result is stunning, and although this is a private residence, they have generously been permitting people to tour the estate and experience this very interesting piece of history. In fact, it’s the #1 Deland attraction on Trip Advisor. Hopefully the eventual buyers will want to keep this up.

To go to the listing and its 122 photographs, click here: John B. Stetson house. For the Stetson Mansion website, click here.

The Boone County Recorder (KY), October 28, 1875 (Credit: http://www.fultonhistory.com)

The Rockdale Messenger (TX), 9 September 1904 (Credit: http://www.fultonhistory.com)

From the New York Daily Star, May 24, 1929 (Credit: http://www.fultonhistory.com)

The New York Daily Star, 20 September 1929 (Credit: http://www.fultonhistory.com)

The New York Daily Star, 16 May 1930 (Credit: http://www.fultonhistory.com)

The Evening Telegram (NY), 30 September 1904 (Credit: http://www.fultonhistory.com)

Categories: 1870s, 1890s, 1900s, Advertisements, Deland, Florida, Stetson John B | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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