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Historic Tours

Suggestions for a 1- day, 2-day or long weekend historic excursions.

One Day Tour

DeLand Historic Mural Walk

The DeLand Historic Mural Walk presents a history of the community when viewed in chronological order. Each of the 12 murals tells a story, vividly portraying the arrival of Henry DeLand, the great St. Johns River, steamboats, statesmen, wildlife, first hotels, the Spanish sugar mill, the DeLand Naval Air Station, the citrus industry, the traditional African-American settlement (Red City), and more moments, places and characters from the community’s past. Featuring the work of six artists, the murals act as illustrated pages of a history book with cleverly placed hidden elements to discover.

DeLand Historic Mural Walk

Henry A DeLand House & Museum

The founder and visionary behind DeLand was Henry A. DeLand and his home is preserved and offers regular tours that feature a docent (Billy DeSilva) who has a wealth of information about DeLand history and the DeLand Home. Right next door is the home of West Volusia Historical Society.

DeLand House & Museum
137 W. Michigan Avenue, DeLand, Florida 32720
(386) 740-6813

Museum of Seminole County

The Museum highlights Seminole County, the historical gateway to interior Central Florida via the St. John’s River. Residents have donated all artifacts housed in the Museum. Exhibits, artifacts, maps, documents, photographs, and special events all tell the stories of Seminole County’s inhabitants, their lives, lineages, and local legends. Join us for an engaging tour through the past that includes Native American Indian artifacts; Early Forts and Settlements; the development of railroads and steamship transportation; life in Seminole County towns in the 1800s and 1900s, among others.

Museum of Seminole County, Sanford
300 Bush Boulevard, Sanford, FL 32773
(407) 665-2489

Two Day Tour

DeBary Hall

DeBary Hall was the winter home of the noted merchant Frederick DeBary, who chose this site on the St. Johns River as his hunting estate. Built in the 1870s, the place became a center for entertainment and hospitality for DeBary’s guests. Today the 10 acre site has a renovated 8,000 sq. foot house, stables and assorted building to preserve the time and culture.

This is a nice historic site to spend a half day of your tour.

DeBary Hall
198 Sunrise Blvd, DeBary, FL 32713
(386) 668-3840

Depending on your interests, here are two very different types of historic experiences:

Cassadaga & Lake Helen

Cassadaga is a spiritualist community that started 119 years ago. This peaceful little town is a fascinating gem of the corridor. Get a reading by certified mediums, have your aura checked, visit a healer, or attend one of their church services or workshops. The people here are warm & friendly and would like to set the record straight about spiritualism. Spiritualists don’t even believe in the Devil, much less are they Satan-worshippers. It’s a positive approach to life, and all faiths are welcomed at their services. You still may encounter a ghost at the hotel, however; many locals swear the hotel is haunted.

Adjacent to Cassadaga (or right around the corner) is the tiny town of Lake Helen with its own collection of historic homes and buildings. This is a great area to spend a peaceful part of your day.  Sinatra’s Restaurant is in the Cassadaga Hotel, which is the town’s most identifiable building.

Cassadaga Spiritual Camp
1112 Stevens St, Lake Helen, FL 32744
(386) 228-3171

Lake Helen
327 S. Lakeview Drive, Lake Helen, Florida 32744
(386) 228-2121

Barberville Pioneer Settlement for the Arts

Another great place to spend a half day is the Pioneer Settlement for the Creative Arts. This extensive collection of buildings and structures (17 buildings on 30 acres) preserves cracker life of the early 1900s. From the large schoolhouse, to the train depot, and the blacksmith shop, this is a fascinating place to step back in time. If you catch them on one of their festival days, there are re-enactors, demonstrations and live music. Locals plan on it.

Barberville Pioneer Settlement for the Creative Arts
1776 Lightfoot Lane Barberville, FL 32105

Three-Day Tour

If you have a third day to spend, proceed from the above 2 days and include these:

Enterprise Historic Buildings

In the late 1800s Enterprise was an enterprising place indeed. Though a number of the original buildings are gone, there still are a few here of interest. The All Saints Episcopal Church is on the National Register of Historic Places and dates back to 1881 and is one of the oldest of the original Episcopal mission churches in Central Florida. The famous Brock House, which was a tourist destination in the steamboat days, is no longer standing but the Florida Methodist Children’s Home (originally an orphanage) now encompasses 100 acres including the site of the Brock House and the homestead of William Thayer. The Smith Hardin Hall was built here in 1927.

The website here, has a detailed list of the area’s historic buildings:
Enterprise Historical Trail

DeLand Naval Air Station Museum

If you lean more towards military history, head over to DeLand and visit the DeLand Naval Air Museum. Fifty years after the opening of the base, the DeLand Naval Air Station Museum came into being, housed in the former Master of Arms Residence, which had been donated by the City of DeLand. Following an extensive restoration effort, the building was dedicated in November, 1995, and has become home to an impressive collection of historical artifacts, veterans’ mementos and military art that has grown steadily over the years. In 2001, the Museum building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

DeLand Naval Air Station Museum
910 Biscayne Boulevard, DeLand, FL 32724
(386) 738-4149

Stetson Mansion

Tour Florida’s first luxury home, often considered the grandest built in Florida during the 19th century. When completed in 1886 as the winter retreat of famed hat maker and philanthropist John B. Stetson, this home was the only “Gilded Age” estate in Florida. The Stetsons were known for hosting magnificent parties for elite, influential citizens of America’s most prosperous era. Henry Flagler built a private railway spur to the Stetson estate, enabling delivery of the finest architectural materials. Tour Hours: March – July, Tuesday and Thursday only at 10:30 a.m. Admission: $20 regular tour; $30 grand tour. Cash only. Reservations required. Email your time/date request to: Gates open 25 minutes before the start of each tour. Regular tours last an hour; grand tours are an hour and a half. No high heels, please!

Stetson Mansion
1031 Camphor Ln, DeLand, FL 32720
(386) 873-0167

Stetson Mansion on TripAdvisor

Historic Downtown Walking Tour in Sanford

Sanford has rich history and an extensive collection of historic buildings that have been preserved. The City has provided maps and historic information for a self-guided walking that will take you to the old Coca Cola Building, Temple Theater, Caroline Hotel, McCrory’s 5 & 10, and others. Virtually all of the buildings along the historic main street (First Ave.) have been preserved from the early 1900s.  The starting point of the your is in the center of town where the clock is located at Magnolia and First Street.

Historic Downtown Walking Tour
Self-guided tour starts here:
198 E 1st St, Sanford, FL 32771

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