Old Volusia County courthouse home to lots of Central Florida history

Building now houses county offices, artwork

DeLAND, Fla. – Built in 1929, the historic Volusia County courthouse is known as a landmark and icon in downtown DeLand. 

"You walk into a structure like this and you feel the history, the grandeur of the place with its marble," said court communications officer Ludmilla Lelis.

The 90-year-old building stands out for its Gothic, neoclassical architecture, a typical design for government buildings from the early 20th century.

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"[It has] Corinthian columns on the inside, a pair of marble staircases. It had cost Volusia County about a half-million dollars to build -- which, back in those days, was a fair amount of money," Lelis said. "(There were) many trials and many important events that happened here. Some of the names are lost through time, but this was a very important courtroom for Volusia County for many decades."

The building is no longer used as a courthouse, but it does house several county offices and collections of artwork.

"Inside the building, Volusia County has made an effort to display artwork commemorating Florida's history. There are all sorts of wonderful artwork that depict the Native Americans, the pioneers," Lelis said.

One of the most notable characteristics is the distinctive interior cupola with colorful features. The dome was designed with stained glass in the interior and its exterior is made out of cladding copper.

The courtroom, which has a capacity for 200 people, held trials from 1929 to 2002. On both sides of the courtroom are two balconies, which served as segregated seating areas during the era of Jim Crow laws.

The historic courthouse was also where Mary Stewart Howarth-Hewitt made history. She was the first woman to graduate from Stetson College of Law and to be registered with the Florida Supreme Court.

In 1987, the courthouse was listed on the national registry of historic places of downtown DeLand.

The courthouse is headquarters to Volusia County's elections department and fire services and is open to the public for daily visits from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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