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The holiday season is fast approaching and if you're in need of a sure-fire way to get in the holiday spirit, come and experience "A Stetson Mansion Christmas."
This is Florida's first luxury estate, built in 1886, and is the crowning jewel of Central Florida. Visitors will be welcomed with a feast for the eyes from the moment they drive through the estate gates. There are three daily tours available, two-day tours and the Stetson by Night tour.
All tours guide guests through the mansion detailing the Christmas decorations, its Gilded Age history as well as the restoration challenges, but on the Stetson by Night tour the mansion comes alive with a magical glow from the six fireplaces and all the lights both inside and out. The baby grand player piano greets guests with the familiar sounds of the season.
The original schoolhouse on the property is also open to the public and has since been converted to a Zen-like cottage with a soaring 16-foot Polynesian ceiling and a magical bedroom. Visitors can also stroll through the grounds, which feature a meditation garden.
John B. Stetson came to DeLand every winter for 20 years and entertained friends, such as President Grover Cleveland, King Edward VII, the Astors, the Vanderbilts and even his good friend Thomas Edison, who oversaw the electrical install at the mansion.
"I feel like a little kid during the holidays every time I walk around the property and glance in through the beautiful antique windows at the Christmas decorations," said owner JT Thompson. "Even after owning the mansion for seven years I still can't believe that a kid from the projects of Newark, N.J. gets to call this masterpiece home ... life is pretty amazing."
Stetson Mansion Christmas tours will begin on Nov. 15 and continue through Jan. 15. All visitors must call ahead for availability and to book a tour. Tours are $20 per person and last about 1.5 hours. For a reservation, call (386) 490-2054 or (386) 479-9017.