THEN — Employees of DeLand businessman George Dreka smile for a photo outside of The Dreka Theater at 112 E. New York Ave. in Downtown DeLand in the 1920s, not long after the building was built. PHOTO COURTESY WEST VOLUSIA HISTORICAL SOCIETY

Editor, The Beacon:

Wonderful article about the West Volusia Historical Society! I’m greatly looking forward to the next ones in the series. One thing needs to especially be mentioned: The project to place brass plaques on the Downtown buildings was researched, initiated and produced by longtime DeLandite and West Volusia historian Sally Landis Bohon.

KEEPING HISTORY ALIVE — This plaque on The Dreka Theater in Downtown DeLand is just one of the many markers that adorn historic buildings in the Downtown Historic District.

Without doubt, our knowledge of the stories of these various buildings would never have been made so readily accessible for all the citizens and visitors to read without her yearslong efforts to memorialize our town’s history in this manner.

NOW — The Dreka Theatre has lived many lives. First as a theater, then as Orange Belt Pharmacy, and, again, renamed The Dreka Theater and used as an event space and the home of Collective Church, a local progressive Christian church.

It’s been said that you don’t know who you are until you know where you’ve come from. We who reside in this portion of the county are luckier than many other communities to have had an active historical society hard at work in our midst, giving our identity a strong historical basis over the past 50 years.

Yet, of all their endeavors, the plaques that Sally Bohon envisioned may be the best of all. We don’t have to go to a separate place or make any special effort to remind ourselves of our history. The plaques are right in our sight every time we walk around our many well-preserved Downtown buildings.

Karen Ryder


— Ryder is the author of Better Country Beyond, a book chronicling DeLand’s early pioneers. The article Ryder referenced was featured in the April 5 edition of The Beacon EXTRA! You can also read the article, titled “Fifty years of keeping local history alive” on our website Ryder’s book is available for purchase at the West Volusia Historical Society, 137 W. Michigan Ave. in DeLand.


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