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The best Holiday Home Tour in Florida and a 10Best in the nation, according to USA Today, runs through Jan. 15 in Florida’s most historic home, the Stetson Mansion.

The privately owned High Victorian mansion was built in 1886 for Florida’s first snowbird, John B. Stetson, the famed hat-maker. The largest, most opulent, and most technologically advanced home ever built in Florida before 1900 was one of the first homes in the world designed and built with Stetson friend Thomas Edison’s electricity, and the first to use Edison electric Christmas tree lights in Florida.

This holiday season, 12,000 visitors from all over the world are expected to enjoy guided tours of the mansion during a 60-day event, which has a $1.5 million economic impact on DeLand and West Volusia.

New elaborate and elegant themed displays are created each year for 10 rooms. Unlike other holiday homes decorated by dozens of volunteers, the entire display is created and assembled in eight weeks solely by co-owner/designer JT Thompson, who hand-places each intricate layer of decoration. Themes this year include “A Woodland Escape,” “A Cardinal Conclave,” “Heroes Tribute” and “Life is Wonderful.”

“Our goal this year is to make you feel like you came home for Christmas,” said fellow co-owner Michael Solari.

Guides detail the inspiration and meaning of each room, as well as share a little history of the home’s builder and current owners.

The mansion holiday tours began Nov. 15. Reservations are required and can be made at StetsonMansion.com for the hour-and-15-minute guided tour, which is similar to a one-man show.

Tours operate at 10:30 a.m., and 1:30, 3:15, 5 and 7 p.m. The cost is $27 for adults, $15 for youths 1 to 22 years old, plus tax and a $3-per-ticket processing fee. Parking is free.

More details can be found on the website.

Stetson Mansion is at 1031 Camphor Lane, west of Downtown DeLand.


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