Built in 1884, DeLand Hall is the oldest structure in continual use as an educational facility in Florida. It was the first academic building erected on the campus of the newly inaugurated DeLand Academy, now Stetson University.
With its symmetrical plan and vertical massing and detailing, DeLand Hall projects a dignified monumentality. The two-and-a-half-story, wood-framed building is composed with a massing that suggests a belated interest in the Second Empire, yet its detailing is closer to the Stick Style architecture of New England. Both are highly unusual in Florida, and reflect Henry DeLand’s origins in upstate New York, where he was a successful chemical manufacturer. A projecting tower marks the entry, which is protected by a simple porch. The building’s steeply pitched mansard roof is punctuated with dormers whose open gabled ends comprise some of the most refined details in the building. Inside, the building is organized around a central corridor on each floor; on the lower level, this hallway leads to a boardroom.
Henry Addison DeLand made his fortune manufacturing baking soda in New York State. During a vacation in South Carolina in the 1870s, he visited central Florida and was enchanted by the region’s landscapes. In 1876, DeLand donated land he had accumulated in Volusia County and funding to establish the city. Both the city and the academy were named in his honor; the latter, founded in 1883, was chartered by the state as a college in 1887. In 1889, however, it was renamed for co-founder John Stetson, the Philadelphia hat manufacturer, after DeLand had lost much of his fortune and the university required additional funds to continue operations.
DeLand Hall shares numerous formal characteristics with the house DeLand built for his family in Fairport, New York, which designed by John Thomas in 1874 and completed two years later. Given the formal similarities between the two structures, it is possible DeLand brought the design with him from upstate New York.
From 1884 to 1892 the building housed the entire college, which was affiliated with the Florida Baptist State Convention. DeLand Hall has accommodated the offices of the president and provost of Stetson University since 1982, when the building was renovated and conserved extensively.
Weaver, Paul L., III, “DeLand Hall,” Volusia County, Florida. National Register of Historic Places Inventory–Nomination Form, 1982. National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C.