Pictured is Visionary in the Pines, a painting of Stetson University namesake and well-known DeLand entrepreneur John B. Stetson with his dog and one of his signature hats by artist Jackson Walker.

The ruling’s in: The Stetson Mansion must return a painting lent by the Museum of Art – DeLand in 2014.

The painting, a portrait of Stetson University namesake John B. Stetson, currently hangs in the privately owned mansion that offers tours through a fixed-up Gilded Age home originally built by Stetson in 1886. The problem is that the painting doesn’t belong to the mansion, it belongs to the museum.

The museum asked for its painting back several times going back to 2021, and the mansion’s owners disputed whether they needed to return it. After the museum filed a small claims court case, a Volusia County judge ruled that the mansion has to give back the painting by Nov. 1.

During multiple hearings, accusations flew. Mansion owner Michael Solari argued that removing the painting from its place in the mansion will hurt the museum’s traffic. 

“I am very sad to see this relationship end,” Solari said of the relationship between the museum and the mansion.

But the museum’s executive director, Pattie Pardee, said there’s hardly a relationship there at all. No plaque states that other paintings from artist Jackson Walker hang in the museum, so the museum’s benefit is negligible. 

“We would just like our painting back,” she told Judge Angela Dempsey at a hearing July 13. “It’s been nerve-wracking.”

During the preliminary hearing, one main focus was on the agreement made between the museum and the mansion in 2014. The mansion’s owners argued that while the signed contract stated that the loan was temporary, former museum Executive Director George Bolge told them they could keep the painting until they sold the building or didn’t want it anymore. 

Dempsey was more concerned with the written contract, as was Pardee.

“The painting was given to you on a loan,” she said. “There is no such thing as a permanent loan.”

At the final hearing July 14, discussion shifted mostly to how to get the painting down. Hanging too high in the air for anyone to remove it by hand — as was determined by Volusia sheriff’s deputies when they paid the mansion a visit earlier that week — scaffolding will have to be erected to take the painting down.

While a date was set, a definitive plan to get the painting down wasn’t sorted out in court. Dempsey shut down a number of other arguments sparked in the courtroom.

“I would hope the parties would work together so the building and the painting don’t get damaged,” Dempsey said, later adding, “I’m gonna let you all fight about the other matters at a later date.”

READ THE ORIGINAL STORY HERE: Stetson Mansion and Deland museum butt heads over loaned painting 


  1. I should think the fire department would have ladders tall enough and men capable to safely take down the painting.

  2. I don’t understand why the mansion couldn’t have added plaques to promote the the museum/artist while the painting was hanging there and the museum couldn’t have arranged to have the painting at the mansion for a certain number of months each year. They could have arranged to promote each other.


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