DeLand museum reopens, offers tours

BEFORE CVS — Dan Friend, president of the DeLand Historic Trust Inc., and military curator at the DeLand Memorial Hospital & Veterans Museum, talks about the old-time apothecary, part of the museum’s extensive walk back through the history of medical practice. 

BEFORE CVS — Dan Friend, president of the DeLand Historic Trust Inc., and military curator at the DeLand Memorial Hospital & Veterans Museum, talks about the old-time apothecary, part of the museum’s extensive walk back through the history of medical practice. 

BEACON PHOTO/ERIKA WEBB

COZY DOCTORING — A homey contrast to today’s sterile physicians’ exam rooms, this circa-1940s doctor’s office has been re-created in the DeLand Memorial Hospital & Veterans Museum, thanks to donors and museum curators Dr. Gilbert Seigworth and his wife, Ora Seigworth. Dr. Seigworth practiced obstetrics and gynecology in upstate New York before retiring and, in 1989, relocating to unincorporated Volusia County near Astor. In 1995, Seigworth settled in DeLand.

COZY DOCTORING — A homey contrast to today’s sterile physicians’ exam rooms, this circa-1940s doctor’s office has been re-created in the DeLand Memorial Hospital & Veterans Museum, thanks to donors and museum curators Dr. Gilbert Seigworth and his wife, Ora Seigworth. Dr. Seigworth practiced obstetrics and gynecology in upstate New York before retiring and, in 1989, relocating to unincorporated Volusia County near Astor. In 1995, Seigworth settled in DeLand. 

BEACON PHOTO/ERIKA WEBB

IRONCLAD — Museum curators Dr. Gilbert Seigworth and his wife, Ora Seigworth, combed the country to find two iron lungs, so integral to the eradication of polio. Finally, they located one in Ohio and another in Louisiana, and donated them to the DeLand museum. Gilbert Seigworth said Penske Truck Rental hauled the machines to DeLand free of charge, for installation in the museum. 

IRONCLAD — Museum curators Dr. Gilbert Seigworth and his wife, Ora Seigworth, combed the country to find two iron lungs, so integral to the eradication of polio. Finally, they located one in Ohio and another in Louisiana, and donated them to the DeLand museum. Gilbert Seigworth said Penske Truck Rental hauled the machines to DeLand free of charge, for installation in the museum. 

BEACON PHOTO/ERIKA WEBB

Your doors to the days gone by are open once again.

Tours have resumed of the second and third floors in DeLand’s Memorial Hospital & Veterans Museum, in Bill Dreggors Park at 230 N. Stone St.

Refurbishing the museum and getting it reopened was a collaborative effort among the City of DeLand, the DeLand Historic Trust, and the West Volusia Historical Society.

They hope an eclectic mix of military, industrial and medical displays will captivate audiences of all ages and interests.

Docent-led tours, about an hour and 15 minutes each, will take place noon-4 p.m. Monday through Friday. The last tour begins at 2:30 p.m. and each tour will accommodate about six people. Walk-ins are welcome, but those without reservations may have to wait.

Completely renovated in 1993, the Italian Renaissance Revival-style building that houses the museum and the DeLand Parks and Recreation Department offices was West Volusia’s first hospital, from 1922 to 1948.

Tours begin on the building’s second floor and include a room Dan Friend considers “very special.” Friend is the museum’s military curator and president of the DeLand Historic Trust.

This room was recently completed thanks to donations from American Legion Adam Quinn Post 6, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2380 and the Marine Corps League, as well as other groups and individuals.

Called the Patriot Room, it honors local heroes and local military history.

The name of the man who wore the World War I uniform displayed there is not known, but his picture remains on fabric attached to the belt.

On the wall hangs a picture of DeLand men lined up to register for the World War I draft.

Friend founded the DeLand Army Tugboat Preservation Group Inc. that morphed and expanded into the DeLand Historic Trust. He is especially fond of the tugboat replica inside one display cabinet.

The tugboat it memorializes, he said, made a contribution to ending World War II.

“It was built in DeLand and taken to [Europe] just in time to get involved with D-Day Normandy,” the former DeLand High School history teacher said. “They called for every tugboat in America to build up docks where they could offload equipment … . That’s what really won the war, not the one-day invasion.”

On the third floor, visitors can learn the history of wars from World War I to present-day conflicts. Generous families have donated the hard-won decorations of military heroes, and each of the artifacts tells a story.

“Guys come in, and it brings back memories,” Friend said.

The medical exhibits are on the third floor, too. An old-timey doctor’s office and an apothecary illustrate medicine’s progress.

All the medical items were donated by Dr. Gilbert Seigworth and his wife, Ora Seigworth.

For group reservations to tour the museum, call the DeLand Parks and Recreation office at 386-626-7280.

For information on ways to volunteer or donate financially, please contact West Volusia Historical Society Executive Director Frank Johnson at 386-740-6813/delandhouse@msn.com or Military Curator Dan Friend of the DeLand Historic Trust at 386-943-9537/danieljosephfriend@gmail.com.

— Erika Webb, erika@beacononlinenews.com


Examples of exhibits and displays in the DeLand Memorial Hospital & Veterans Museum:

A pump organ taken into the field and played by a chaplain

A replica of an M2 machine gun

Model planes and ships that depict the Battle of Midway in a diorama

A model Douglas SBD Dauntless Torpedo, depicting a plane similar to the one recently restored at the DeLand Naval Air Station Museum

Items confiscated from Nazi-occupied Germany

A 1940s-era surgical suite, including the anteroom and the operating room, complete with “scrubbed” mannequins and period-correct medical equipment

Multihued glass bottles in a replicated apothecary, or pharmacy

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