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Iconic hat maker John B. Stetson’s grand 1886 Victorian mansion opens this year from Nov. 15 through Jan. 15 for the annual “Christmas Spectacular!” Holiday Home Tour.

Co-owner JT Thompson designs all-new elaborate scenes each year with $150,000 worth of designer decorations from around the world. The event has become so popular in Florida’s most historic mansion that reservations are required for the guided tours. The tours operated three times daily for more than 10,000 visitors last year.

Rooms in the High Style Victorian mansion listed on the National Registry will draw their elegant inspiration from the following songs: “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” “Angels We Have Heard on High,” “We Three Kings,” “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” “Deck the Halls With Boughs of Holly,” “Let There Be Peace on Earth” and “We Need a Little Christmas.” Each scene is composed of complicated layers with hundreds of hand-placed decorative items.

“We close the mansion for two months so JT can devote every day to install every painstaking detail,” said co-owner Michael Solari. “It is amazing to watch his love for the season provide such original inspiration. I have seen more than one guest tear up when they see his dramatic interpretations.”

“The Victorians began our modern traditions of Christmas trees and gift-giving, so what better place to go to than an authentic Victorian mansion!” said guide Jo Anne Heinle. “Our tours bring you through all the rooms on the first and second floor and even include the current owners’ bedroom, bathroom and closet! Guests marvel at the 16 different intricate original parquet floor patterns and 10,000 panes of antique window glass. The mansion’s electricity was installed by Thomas Edison, who gave Stetson one of the first strings of Christmas tree lights too! We will receive visitors from around the world, so it really is a festive time here at the mansion.”

Holiday tours of the home of Florida’s first official snowbird will be offered at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. from Nov. 15 through Jan. 15. The cost is $25 plus tax for adults and $15 plus tax for youth ages 6 to 22. Parking is free.

Ticket holders will also receive a free chocolate-covered strawberry when they stop in at Pat and Toni’s Sweet Things in Downtown DeLand. Required reservations can be booked only at StetsonMansion.com.

The Stetson Mansion is open year-round at 1031 Camphor Lane just west of DeLand.


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