Stetson Legacy Week returns

‘GILDED AGE’ MANSION — Hatmaker John B. Stetson’s winter home in DeLand will be the setting for a weeklong celebration of his legacy, including the display of nostalgic family heirlooms.

‘GILDED AGE’ MANSION — Hatmaker John B. Stetson’s winter home in DeLand will be the setting for a weeklong celebration of his legacy, including the display of nostalgic family heirlooms.

PHOTOS COURTESY STETSON MANSION

BEAUTY RESTORED — The Stetson Mansion was built in 1886 and deteriorated over the following century, but has been restored to glamorous luxury.

BEAUTY RESTORED — The Stetson Mansion was built in 1886 and deteriorated over the following century, but has been restored to glamorous luxury.

Stetson Legacy Week, a celebration honoring John B. Stetson, is back for a second straight year in DeLand after its hugely successful debut last year. The weeklong event this year is set for July 14-21, with special events scheduled in tribute to John B. Stetson — Florida’s first “snowbird” — who left an amazing cultural legacy beyond the world’s most famous hat.

Hundreds took part in the inaugural celebration, and more are expected this year, as more Stetson items never before seen by the public will again be unveiled at the Stetson Mansion.

New items for 2018 include old Stetson family movies and an early Stetson Hat company film. The West Volusia Tourism Advertising Authority and Stetson Mansion are partnering for this exceptional week and encouraging everyone to see these historical items and attend the special events around DeLand.

Stetson was known as a progressive employer who paid decent wages, gave back to the community and donated generously to charities. He had a specific affinity for DeLand and chose the city as the winter home for his family.

He became the main benefactor for the state’s first private university (named Stetson University in his honor in 1889), and brought electricity to DeLand, which became the first place in Florida with electric streetlights.

Legacy Week centers on the Stetson Mansion, the home John B. Stetson built in 1886 and the place where he died in 1906. The Stetson Mansion, the first and only “Gilded Age” mansion in Florida, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Listed as Florida’s “Most Popular Tourist Attraction” by TripAdvisor, the Stetson Mansion will be filled with nostalgic items. These include the diary of the hatmaker’s wife, Elizabeth, which details her journey to be with her second husband (a count in Portugal), who died before she could return to his castle; son John Stetson Jr.’s sterling-silver baby cup; and Benjamin Stetson’s sterling-silver and ivory baby rattle and the only known photo of him (he died at age 2 from a childhood illness).

Guests also will discover a collection of hundreds of John B. Stetson’s obituary notices from papers around the county — some detailing his last will and testament.

Special “Stetson Legacy Week” tours are available twice daily at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. during Legacy Week July 14-21, at the Stetson Mansion, located at 1031 Camphor Lane in DeLand. Reservations are required and can be made by visiting www.StetsonMansion.com/tour-info/.

In addition to the activities at the mansion, guests age 21 and older showing their mansion tour ticket can enjoy free wine and beer tastings at Abbey, Byte and The Half Wall Beer House in Downtown DeLand.

— Dean Turcol

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