DeLAND, Fla. – For the past nine years, the owners of the iconic Stetson Mansion in DeLand have been decorating it for Christmas tours.
The mansion, which was built in 1886 by famed cowboy hat maker John B. Stetson, sits on 2.3 acres of land and includes a small schoolhouse.
The current owner, J.T. Thompson, uses his imagination to decorate 10 rooms with the Christmas spirit and he also pays tribute to the Stetson family with several decorative peacocks.
“Mr. Stetson had peacocks, hundreds of them, that roamed his acreage. Every year it’s in a different area and this year, for the first time ever, it’s taken over the grand stair case,” Thompson said. “I never repeat themes or designs. Every year we feature nativities from around the globe.”
One of the guest rooms also honors the brave men and women of the U.S. military.
“This year I added first responders as well and this room is probably always the most difficult room for me to design because I just want to -- I want to make it impactful and I want them to know just how much their service and their allegiance to the country means to me,” he said. “Including even a tribute to one of the greatest tragedies our nation has ever faced: 9/11."
This year, the dining area’s decoration was inspired by the owner’s childhood memory.
“This is called the conclave of cardinals. So as a young boy, I was an altar boy and I remember when all the cardinals would get together to vote on the new pope. As you go through the room, you’ll hear, you’ll see cardinals,” Thompson said.
Inside the reception parlor, a Christmas tree decorated in blue jays and silver balls stands next to a piano that has also been covered with blue and silver decor.
Thompson called the room, “I’ll have a blue Christmas.”
" I wanted guests to feel as if the 120 blue jays came into the room, designed, decorated and prepared it for them and the arrival of the Christ child," he said.
Thompson and his partner purchased the property 13 years ago. It’s often been referred to as the crown jewel of Central Florida. It was the eclectic architecture and character Thompson fell in love with.
“We stepped inside this home and I just knew that this was a home that we had -- it had to be ours and we had to save it from the wrecking ball and bring it back to life,” he said.
The Christmas tour runs through Jan. 15. Tickets are $27 for adults and $15 for children. The tour takes 1 hr and 15 mins and includes the first and second floor as well as a school house.
Free parking is available. Historic tours are offered from Feb. 2 to Sept. 14th.
For more information, click here.