A visit to a designated Mainstreet USA City.
|DeLand – Mainstreet USA
You will enjoy an authentic, southern, historic atmosphere in the unique award-winning town of DeLand, which has been designated Mainstreet USA. Originally the town was called Persimmon Hollow. When Henry Addison DeLand visited it in 1876 he bought a section of property for $1000 and in 1882 the city was incorporated and the townspeople voted to name the city Deland in honor of their benefactor who had donated money to construct churches and schools.
Ancient oaks and tropical palms shade the historic neighborhoods of the city, which is also the seat of government for Volusia County. The downtown area, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, includes streets named after early pioneers of whom there are many interesting stories. Some of these pioneers were memorialized and can be viewed in the mural at Pioneer Park at the corner of North Woodland Boulevard and Rich Avenue. The mural completed in 1996, is titled “Pioneers at the Parceland,” and was painted by Perego, an artist from Daytona Beach. In the mural rising in the distance, behind these pioneers, is the old Parceland Hotel built in the early 1880s, by Joseph Yale Parce, Henry Deland’s brother-in-law. It was later sold to John B. Stetson, a hat manufacturer and philanthropist, who expanded the building and renamed it the College Arms Hotel. A second mural at 247 North Woodland Boulevard is known as the “DeLand Landing” mural. This mural depicts early methods of mass transportation in Central Florida. Steamboats on the St. Johns River, which brought settlers and tourists who, were met at the dock by horse-drawn wagons that brought them to town. There are a number of wonderful mural depicting DeLand's history on the sides of building throughout the city.
While strolling down Woodland Boulevard, DeLand’s main street, you can stop and take a breath at one of several park benches or venture into a local cafe. There are charming antique shops and art galleries along the way. On Michigan Avenue not far from North Woodland Boulevard stands The Henry A DeLand House Museum built in 1886 by DeLand’s first attorney, George Hamlin. John B. Stetson purchased the house in 1893 for faculty housing for the university that bears his name. Later, Dr. Charles Farriss, professor of Greek at the university, purchased the home and transformed the simple house into a residence of classical styling and character. The home changed ownership a number of times and in 1988 it was purchased by Robert and Hawtense Conrad and donated to the City of DeLand. With funds provided by the city and Volusia County the structure was restored to the period when the Farriss family lived in it. The DeLand House Museum was completed and dedicated in 1990 and is a living museum of local history and has been a gathering place for present day social events such as receptions and class reunions. It is also the headquarters and repository of the West Volusia Historical Society. Tours are given by knowledgeable guides free of charge and visiting hours are Tuesday through Saturday 12:00 noon to 4:00pm. The Henry A. DeLand House Museum is located at 137 W. Michigan Avenue. For more information call 904-740-6813.
Many artists make their homes in and around DeLand. One most interesting artist restores and paints antique and reproduction carousel horses. After 21 years as a fashion designer, Marsha Schloesser is enjoying a second career combining her first love of horses with the color she paints on her carousel steeds. Marsha, who owns two Paso Fino mares, is the founder and on the Board of Directors of the Florida Horse Council. She also rides with the Stardust Paso Fino Drill Team, which performs around Central Florida. As if this wasn’t unusual enough, Marsha was chosen to be one of the “Horse Fever” artists here in Ocala. Her thoroughbred entry done in copper leafing and named “Copper Charm”, was situated in the main downtown square of Ocala, during the public art display. The entire process of turning the white molded horse into a copper masterpiece took about 3 weeks. First he was sanded and smoothed several times. Next came taping and 3 coats of under color and sizing, which is what the leafing adhered to. The hard part was next… each square of leafing was placed by hand and hand rubbed to a luster. Then the shading and clear coats were painted on. Proceeds raised from the auction of this equine masterpiece and the other 51 painted steeds will be shared with the charity of the buyer’s choice and to promote the arts.
Marsha enjoys each day working on her business, which includes a good selection of antique and reproduction carousel horses as well as antique equine art. See her creations on the web at www.carousels.cc or call for a serious appointment at 352-669-6449.
Visit DeLand and discover a hidden treasure or two in its specialty shops, restaurants and antique and art galleries. DeLand hosts festivals and other special events throughout the year.