Holiday Tour of Historic Stetson Mansion, Florida’s First Luxury Mansion

Holiday Tour of Historic Stetson Mansion, Florida’s First Luxury Mansion

To spread a little holiday cheer and inspire
your festive décor, I’m taking you on a tour of the Stetson Mansion in Deland Florida,
Inside you will find a visual holiday feast for the eyes, now the Christmas decorations
that you are about to see are just as glamorous and extravagant as the
home’s illustrious history, as Florida’s first luxury estate. It was designed, built
and lived in my John B. Stetson, the famed hat maker; you may know today for Stetson
leather boots and hats. In 2005, Michael Solari and JT Thompson purchased the home and embarked
on a historical renovation. Once a year during, they transform the interior
into a holiday wonderland Now don’t let the home’s understated holiday
décor on the exterior fool you. This is on purpose; the owners say the home’s architecture
is the ornament, but inside, a different story. Come on
Hello JT Hello Karen
We are so excited; you are not going to believe this Wow, breath taking, I mean right from the moment when you walk in the door you almost gasp at what
the eye beholds. So this is the grand staircase, the foyer,
the grand entrance and this is where Mr. and Mrs Stetson would welcome guests from around
the globe and dignitaries of the gilded age so what is fantastic about this staircase,
if you can image, the king and queen of England walked down that staircase, President Cleveland
was greeted here, King Edward the 7th, The Astors, the Vanderbilts, the Gills the Carnegies.
Mr. Thomas Edison himself was here, not only being greeted here but he was actually responsible
for overseeing the entire electrical install So this year, the inspiration is a celebration of of the 200th anniversary of the world’s
most beloved Christmas hymnal Silent Night so as guests arrive, I want them to feel almost
as if they are walking into the church in Austria for the very first time as Silent
Night was ready to be played. I wanted So on a typical tour, the piano would be playing we had to turn it off because it was over
powering our voices. My eye was drawn to the sheet music that floats in the air,
I wanted to have the feeling of music filling the air and so the music of Silent Night is flying through the air and filling not only the ears but the hearts of and the souls of parishioners who are now our guests. So, the
music is rushing around the room, swirling I have to point out that JT does all of this
single handedly by himself. He goes into this kind of creative manic state. How long does
it take you to pull this together? well when you say I do this by myself, I literally
do not allow anyone to help me as nutty as that sounds I do everything by myself. I lay
every bead, every bauble every light and ornament. Normally, I have six or seven weeks but because
I had a guest designer join me Hurricane Matthew. It took away almost a week of my design time
so I had to pull all of this together in 4 and a half weeks. And I did not edit the designs
I originally planned, actually I added to it
I love the fact that he refers to Hurricane Matthew as his co-designer or co-conspirator
because you actually use this as an opportunity to use found and felled objects from hurricane
Matthew in your décor. So are we going to see some decorative assistance
from Hurricane Matthew in here, some organic touches
Matthew is all around, you’ll see Matthew on the coffee table, the greenery, the twigs
you see Matthew all across the beam here. All the grapevine you see ensconcing all of
the angels, all courtesy of Matthew. I actually feel like I need to be sending check to Mother
Nature because I was able to use quite a bit of it and it really does give you an organic
feel This is normally the music room and library
and this is where John and Elizabeth Stetson would’ve welcomed their guests and this
room is a wonderful depiction of the floors, there is over 16 different floor patterns
in the mansion, all original to 1886. This room for example is a 3 dimensional floor
and sometimes depending on how much you’ve had to drink or if you stare at it, it appears
as if you are walking on top of blocks an optical illusion
Imagine the intricacy because the home was built in the Gilded Age before the machine
age so this is done by hand. The craftsmanship, the quality of wood that it is still intact
is absolutely breathtaking. I’ve got to ask you in doing your research
on the Stetsons, did they decorate to this extent as you do
We’ve never seen one interior picture of the mansion; Mr. Stetson was good friends
with Mr. Edison so it is believed that this home, right in the alcove where we see the
piano, this home had two plugs placed there and probably had the first Christmas tree
with the first Christmas lights because Mr. Edison, one of his assistants invented Christmas
lights so we believe this is the first home in Florida that had Christmas lights
So I’ve got to tell you the dinning room is my favorite room in the house because it’s
done up in all these metallic it’s very blingy and glamorous
I have to say this has been a guest favorite this year. I wanted to not just make a silver
and gold room but I wanted to have different shades and elements and hues of silver and
gold and for the main tree I wanted it to appear as if I took the trunk dipped it into
a vat of gold and just had gold pouring off You and Michael live in Stetson mansion year round where are you living while people are coming in and out of your home in the holiday season Its three stories during the rest of the year,
we open up the entire mansion but during Christmas we save the third floor for storage
and we stay up on the third floor but the guests, during the Christmas season, they get to go in our bedroom, our bathroom
our closet, you name it this is a full access tour throughout the year. And you with your OCDness are totally cool with that? I thought I was going to have a problem with that but after the very first tour 8 and a half years ago, I fell in love with seeing it all over again through someone elses’ eyes. The thing I love the most is that you unapologetically say, This is Christmas, we
are celebrating Christmas Absolutely, I’m really big on that. I’m
not really overly religious myself but we are celebrating about the arrival of the Christ
child, this is a Christmas spectacular, it’s not a holiday spectacular and I preach that
and I proclaim that loud and proud through every room in the mansion This was one of the first homes in the entire
world to be designed and built with Edison electricity and what we are left with now
is that we have some of the original Edison light fixtures which we have in this room
right now, Original Thomas edition light fixture, original Thomas Edison light fixture and the
piece de le resistance is the original circuit box that operated all the electric in the
mansion and what we did to be a little bit reminiscent when Edison was here. We left one
of the lights still attached so it will always operate the Edison light bulb.
So you painstakingly renovated the home and some modernization was required obviously
the kitchen Sometimes with homes like this people want
to bring it back to the day it was built and it becomes obsolete. It’s no longer a home,
it s a museum. For us, we wanted it to be lived in, loved and shared and that’s what
we did an adaptive restoration. The feel that I wanted to evoke here is as
if someone had just came from this antique bazaar or antique gathering and they collect
all of these magnificent things just in time for Christmas when family and friends are
coming together and that’s why you see this This is the Stetson tribute room and this
particular room is paying tribute to the man and his family. We have stock certificates
we have products by the Stetson Company, which is now mostly licensing but it’s not only
a reminder of the business but also the legacy of the man The room historically, who inhabited this
room This is where the boys would’ve slept. It’s
kind of of apropos that we show pictures of them here and celebrate their dad because
this is where they would’ve spent 20 of their Christmases and 20 of their winters.
I always pay tribute to the military in the Elizabeth suite it’s a tribute to the women in military
And a celebration of their service. How did you get these uniforms, these are
actual uniforms here on display. These are actual uniforms gathered from women around
the state that came forward and were kind of enough to let me display them here.
So in real life this is your master bedroom. I tell people this is a full access tour,
they walk through my bedroom, my bathroom and my closet so this year its been transformed
as a tribute to a Christmas Carol, I have to tell you this room is one of the most difficult
for me to have guests see because I’m a Virgo with a tiny bit of OCD, having to represent
Ebineezer Scrooge’s bed unmade drives me insane. Every morning I make it and the tour
guides have to push it back and rattle it up, this is a tough one for me but I’m breathing
through it What Michael did was something
brilliant. He took what used to be the servants hallway that led to the servants bedroom.
He took one of the three closets that were here knocked through it and came up with this.
A walk in closet that is a room , a room unto its own.
considering this was a servants bedroom this is a nice size when you take all the closet
and all the other features out this was a 12 by 14 room Again another great hidden
feature that makes it’s a living breathing practical home.
as you can hear, the party has started down below without us .
What’s up with that? But I will say JT you have done an
incredible job creating a holiday wonderland here but next year you want to take it to the next level. So here you
go, shameless plug to HGTV’s Design Challenge So HGTV, here you go, here is my idea, I would
like to invite you out to the Stetson Mansion and next year have a Christmas spectacular
design challenge featuring a different designer in every room in the mansion they might even
give me a room I don’t know I’m just putting it out there but what an amazing venue and
setting for your viewers to experience the magic of Christmas at such an incredible historic
and beautiful place so HGTV its in your hands we are waiting for you
That’s right and if you aren’t going to film I’m going to come find you, The Design
Tourist will find you That’s right and we won’t give you any
of the champagne

About the author


  1. Way too over stated. The decorations have no heart. No Victorian home at Christmas would look like this. Many of the decorations did not even exist in the Victorian era.

  2. I am a Virgo with OCD too.. So nice that you are taking such good care of this historic home. I really think the Stetson's and Thomas Edison look down upon it, and are very pleased. Continue to enjoy your home, and allowing so many other's to do that with you. TY for showing the home, Karen.

  3. How enchanting! Hard to think that one person did all that work, when it seems more than enough to decorate two of our reception rooms, entrance hall, & a bit in the kitchen diner. LOL I sure did enjoy the tour. However, I simply can't be impressed with the run down of rich &/or famous people who may have visited the place in yesteryear.

  4. I have to agree with timothy1966. It is tacky wacky and holy gaudy. My first thought is trashy. It doesn't look like someone with good taste ever walked into this house. Sorry, not for those who have good taste.

  5. I knew a Stetson family, and they bought this mansion in area, and I never knew anything about this or how the fact they may have been distantly related to this family, but really do not know? Such a small world. I live in Upstate NY.

    I am a Virgo too so can understand the decorating ideas and feelings , and some of the OCD that can happen to people like us that have Virgo as their sign..

  6. One thing about the Victorians is that more is more better. It may be gaudy in our minimalist approach, but they wanted to show their prosperity and worth with their style and possessions.

  7. Victorians were about over the top Christmas decorating but it was very elegant and pulled together whereas much of this looks like a hot mess. His description of somebody coming home from an antique store and dumping all the stuff they bought all over the place is appropriate. It looks like it was gotten out to be arranged and then the arranging never got done. The crumpled sheet music looks like trash blowing around. Suspended gilded musical notes would have gotten the music theme across without looking trashy.

  8. I like it adore decor to Christmas as old warm lighten bright it house fabulous traditions follow as church sweet home on stay in Christmas 🎅

  9. The wife and I took this tour last year. I do have to agree it was a little overwhelming. I'd love to see the mansion in its natural state.

  10. Maybe I don’t know 🤔 What is. good , and What is not…. but ,, for Me Is To Much ,, I don’t see. What cain of decoration it has , is a lot of things together … that I do no Know what’s what. ? Sorry all what I see , is a lot of light , and little berries with a garland made of paper 📝. 😁 😁maybe I need may glasses 👓😊 the house 🏠 is good , but de decor , isn’t ,, but Merry Christmas 🎄 everyone. 🌲🎄🎊🎁🛍

  11. I just bought my tickets ,treating my girlfriends birthday , looking forward, watching the video and reading the negative, insensitive commons still doesn’t turn me off from looking forward , lots of work put into it…and I can appreciate , Victorian times were OVER the top , I’ve watched Downton Abby so have been exposed…I hope HGTV is listening . See you on Nov. 16…1:30..🌲🎄

  12. Your idea for HGTV is the best yet! I’m going to suggest it and email them myself. Fabulous home, fabulous decorations.Less is never enough it just looks cheap. I’m begging for more please! Thank you 🙏


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