110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
Indians lived here for at least 10,000 years. Then came the Spanish. Some think Ponce de León was among the Spanish who came to this area, but that’s disputed. After the Spanish came the English, bringing a permanent settlement here in 1828.
I’ve lived in DeLeon Springs for about 15 years, and written about it for The Beacon almost since the newspaper began in 1992. It was a small, friendly place when I moved here and, in spite of the growth that is always with us, remains so today.
As you approach DeLeon Springs up U.S. Highway 17 from DeLand, you pass, on the right, Hiatt Automotive, where I used to bring my car when I was still commuting from Fort Lauderdale. Next comes a small motel, then Wachovia Bank, Art’s Place (thought of as a bikers' bar, but everybody's welcome), a convenience store, McInnis Elementary School, and then you’re out of town.
Out of town on the right, you come to the road leading to Spring Garden Ranch, where trotting horses are trained in the winter. People like to go there and watch the horses run. The restaurant is open daily, but the horses do not run on Sunday.
Should you be looking out the window on the left on your way into town, you will see a big filling station, several antiques shops, a Mexican restaurant, an ice-cream parlor, other small businesses and a hardware store.
Opposite the elementary school, a road, Ponce DeLeon Boulevard, angles off to the left and passes the post office. The post office offers what post offices do, plus a never-ending art show during the school year, featuring works presented by students at McInnis. Post-office patrons are invited to view the galleries and vote for their favorites.
Continuing down Ponce DeLeon Boulevard to the very end, maybe a mile, you come to the entrance of DeLeon Springs State Park, the feature of DeLeon Springs that first brought me here. It’s a very popular park, with a pool where the spring bubbles up, hiking trails, picnic tables and the Old Spanish Sugar Mill restaurant. The restaurant is noted for the fact that the tables all have grills in the middle, on which people are invited to make their own pancakes.
Off the main streets of DeLeon Springs are several churches, the fire station, a large Head Start program, a compact but very-well-stocked branch of the Volusia County library system, and homes, lots of them, some on well-appointed blocks and some tucked away in the woods.
I’m happy to call it my home.
Mary Smithwick writes about Glenwood, DeLeon Springs and points north. Her column appears in the Community Connections section of The DeLand-Deltona Beacon.
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