Tip your hat in honor of John B. Stetson, Florida’s first “snowbird,” who left an amazing cultural legacy beyond creating America’s most iconic symbol, the cowboy hat.
Legacy Week, the weeklong Stetson tribute, is set to get underway July 13 at the Stetson Mansion, Florida’s most historic home.
Legacy Week centers on guided tours of the Stetson Mansion — a journey through every room of Florida’s first opulent “Gilded Age” mansion. Tours are where visitors learn about John B. Stetson’s contributions to American industry, Florida tourism and American pop culture.
During Legacy Week, rare family heirlooms will be on display, such as John B. Stetson’s silver desk set, the Stetson family Bible, John Jr.’s silver baby rattle, and medals of honor he received from countries like Poland and Iran. Visitors also can watch family movies and an early Stetson Hat company film.
“We are excited to have so much history to share through all these nostalgic Stetson family items. Everything from the diary of John’s wife, Elizabeth, which details her journey to be with her second husband, a count in Portugal, to a book of John’s obituary notices from papers across the country — some even detailing his last will and testament — each portraying a part of life for this famous hat baron,” said Michael Solari, co-owner of the Stetson Mansion.
The West Volusia Tourism Advertising Authority and the Stetson Mansion — Florida’s “Most Popular Tourist Attraction” according to TripAdvisor — are partnering for this exceptional week and encouraging everyone to come appreciate local history, admire the 16 different patterns of rare intricate parquet floors at the mansion, and visit Downtown DeLand.
Stetson was known for giving back to the community and donating generously to charities, as well as for being a progressive employer who provided health care and child care for workers. He became the main benefactor for the state’s first private university — named Stetson University in his honor in 1889.
He had a specific affinity for DeLand, making it his family’s winter home and bringing electricity to it, making it the first city in Florida with electric streetlights. The Stetson Mansion is the first and only “Gilded Age” mansion in Florida and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
“Stetson Legacy Week” tours will be available twice daily at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. during the week of July 13-20 at the Stetson Mansion, 1031 Camphor Lane in DeLand. Tickets cost $30, and reservations are required. Stetson Mansion ticket holders age 21 and older can also enjoy a free wine or beer tasting at selected establishments like Byte and The Artisan in Downtown DeLand during Stetson Legacy Week.