The City of DeLand is a town with a rich history and a close community, bound together by its unique heritage. Henry A. DeLand founded DeLand in 1876, with the purchase of a $1,000 plot of land. He decided to move to the area after visiting his brother-in-law, O.P. Terry, who was living in an area called Persimmon Hollow. Mr. DeLand was a prosperous businessman in New York, but chose to move to Persimmon Hollow.
Mr. DeLand's plan was to develop the area by convincing settlers to come to DeLand and buy land from him. If they didn't like the area they could sell the land back to Mr. DeLand within the first two years of settlement. He became a generous benefactor to the settlers, enabling them to build schools and churches. The settlement was located near what is now Woodland Boulevard and New York Avenue. One winter there was such a bad freeze that the settlers of DeLand lost their crops. These people could no longer stay in DeLand, so Mr. DeLand bought all land back from them.
In 1883, Henry DeLand founded the DeLand Academy, but after the freeze of 1885, he no longer had the funds to support the Academy. John B. Stetson took over the endowment and the name of the academy was changed, upon the request of Mr. DeLand, to John B. Stetson University. The name was changed again in the 1990's to ,simply, Stetson University. The original building, which housed DeLand Academy, is still a part of Stetson University campus as an office building for the President of the University.
The fire of 1855 forever changed the face of downtown DeLand along Woodland Blvd. The fire started in Wilcox's Salon and destroyed the 100 block of Woodland Blvd. on both sides. The day after the fire, two city ordinances were set up. The first banned all salons in DeLand and the second mandated that all buildings in the downtown area be built using masonry material, not wood. As you drive down Woodland Blvd today, you will see that all the buildings are made of concrete and brick. The most exquisite buildings are those of brick. They give the feel of what DeLand was like years ago.
The appeal of DeLand would not be the same if not for the old oak trees that line the streets. These trees were planted by residents of DeLand in hopes of a tax break. In 1886, residents of DeLand were allowed to take 50 cents off their taxes for each oak tree they planted that lived for one year. The residents planted so many trees that the city had to repeal the tax break because there wasn't enough money collected from taxes to pay the town marshall. The tax break of 1886 contributed greatly to the beauty of DeLand.
The following year, the Volusia County Court house was moved from Enterprise to DeLand, a big step for such a small area. The courthouse was rebuilt in the same spot in 1927 and is considered to be one of the most beautiful in the state of Florida.
A major development and contributor to the furthering of prosperity for the DeLand area was the construction of roads. In 1916, Woodland Blvd was bricked in one direction to Old Daytona Road and in the other direction to Orange City. New York Avenue was also bricked down to the St. Johns River. The following year, a road was built to connect DeLand, Daytona and New Smyrna. In 1960, International Speedway was rebuilt with four lanes going to Daytona.
In the 1920's, DeLand left the same prosperity as much of the rest of the country. DeLand had its first tremendous growth spurt, both in population and building. A new style of Mediterranean architecture was seen. Subdivisions were opened all over the area and sidewalks were installed downtown. The city limits were expanded west to the river, east to lake Winnemissett, and south to Orange Camp Road and north to Daytona Road. The expansion of the city lasted but a few years. In 1928, the great depression brought hard times to the city. Subsequently, it was reduced to one square mile. DeLand recovered the economic hardships and continued to prosper.
During WWII, the Navy built a naval airbase in DeLand. The Navy turned the airbase over to the city of DeLand in 1946. It is now the municipal airport.
DeLand's rich history has been recorded and kept alive through the work of the West Volusia Historical Society. This organization runs the Henry A. DeLand House Museum, The Conrad Research Center, and the DeLand Memorial Hospital Museum. To learn more about DeLand, visit the DeLand House, Tuesday - Saturday from noon until 4:00pm.
Historic Landmarks in DeLand include:
Founded in 1883 as DeLand Academy, this is Florida's First Private University. Many of the buildings, including Elizabeth Hall, Flagler Hall, Chaudoin Hall and the original DeLand Academy building are historic landmarks.
During the early 1920's, theaters were built in many Florida communities. Some cities, including DeLand, supported several entertainment houses during this period. The Athens Theater was developed by L.M. Patterson, a native of Washington, D.C., who moved to DeLand in 1920 and organized the DeLand Moving Picture Company.
Michaelos was a Greek businessman who ran a small bar with pool tables for many years. When the building was built in 1900, it housed Marsh's Meat Market. This is one of the oldest remaining structures on Woodland Blvd.
Volusia County Courthouse
The first building was built in 1887 on land that was donated by Henry DeLand. In 1927, the current courthouse was built and is considered one of the most beautiful in Florida.
South Trust Bank
The building that now houses South Trust Bank was originally Dreka's Department store. This was the first store of its kind in DeLand. In 1898, Dreka's Department Store was relocated half a block down Woodland Blvd to its current location.
- City of Deland
Deland Chamber.org - City of Deland Chamber of Commerce
PlanetDeland.com - Local Business Directory and information
MainStreet Deland.com - The home of the MainStreet Deland Association
Deland Beacon.com - The Deland Newspaper
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