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PHOTO COURTESY STETSON MANSION HO! HO! HO! — A Santa figure is surrounded by lights and garlands. This is just one of the many decorations that are featured in this year’s edition of the “Christmas Spectacular” holiday tours at the Stetson Mansion.

Stetson Mansion owners Michael Solari and JT Thompson open their home every year to share its beauty and opulence with everyone. “Christmas Spectacular” tours of the historic Victorian-era home started Nov. 1 and will run through Jan. 22.

“We will open 2-3 tour times a day Nov. 1st thru Nov. 15th,” Solari said in a newsletter. “All seven daily tour times will open on the 16th.”

Self-guided tours are being offered this year in place of guided tours in consideration of the current climate surrounding COVID-19, according to the mansion’s website. Descriptions of each room will be emailed to each person who books a reservation.

The baby grand will welcome you into the mansion, where each year 10 rooms are embellished with all-new elaborate designer decorations and 24 Nativities from around the world. Decorations are different each year and geared for adults, all crafted by Thompson.

Room themes for 2021-22 are inspired by popular design elements of the past decade, such as “Cardinals Are Near When Angels Appear,” “It Takes a Village,” “Snow Babies It’s Cold Outside” and “Hallelujah! The Christ Child Is Born.”

PHOTOS COURTESY STETSON MANSION
HEAVENLY STAIRWAY — The main stairway to the second floor is adorned with garlands and lights for this year’s “Christmas Spectacular” holiday tours of the Stetson Mansion, which run through Jan. 22.

This enchanting event includes all the rooms on the ground floor and the three bedrooms on the second floor (including the owner’s bedroom, bathroom and closet).

Just when you think you’ve seen it all, you are then treated to a visit into the original schoolhouse, which has since been converted into a Zen-like guest cottage featuring a soaring 15-foot Polynesian ceiling. The schoolhouse might offer a few gift ideas, including a picture book featuring Christmas designs by owner Thompson.

According to the mansion’s website, the 1886 Stetson Mansion is the largest and most spectacular “Gilded Age” residence ever built in Florida before 1900. The grand Victorian mansion has had all of its original rich architectural details restored.

The website notes that Victorians started our modern Christmas traditions, like gift-giving and Christmas trees, so what’s better than seeing Christmas in one of the Victorian homes where it all started? The Stetson Mansion had one of the first trees ever illuminated with electric lights. That’s what you get when Thomas Edison is your BFF!

The Stetson Mansion is Florida’s most historic home, but it’s not a museum. It’s a private residence that is lived in and welcomes guests this time of year with over-the-top elegant adult holiday decorations. Owner/designer Thompson might stop in to say hello to your group.

Guided history tours about the mansion, Stetsons and current owners are offered between February and September every year.

For more information about the Stetson Mansion or to book “Christmas Spectacular” tours, go to www.stetsonmansion.com and scroll down to “Holiday Home Tour.”

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