Thursday, March 12, 2015

Deland, Florida

In my last posting I mentioned that we were taking a trip to Washington D.C.  Our point of departure was from the town of DeLand, where the Amtrak station is located.  As our train was not leaving until the evening, John and I decided to spend the day touring DeLand.  We first started with an historic home.
Pictured above is the Henry A. DeLand house.  In the late 1800s word had it that there was money to be made in the orange groves of northeastern Florida.  Henry DeLand, a native of New York who had made his fortune in baking soda, traveled to Florida to expand his wealth in citrus fruit.  He built the above home in 1886, and also grew a citrus orchard on the land.  He never lived in the house, however, and in 1900 the house was bought by John B. Stetson for faculty housing at the university which bears his name.  That school is located in DeLand.  Stetson was a hat manufacturer from Philadelphia, and his mansion,  located in the town can also be toured.  We decided rather to check out the murals of DeLand.
What is interesting about the town's murals is that they depict real people and places.  The mural above, "Pioneers at the Parceland", is designed from an 1890 photograph.  It shows "snow birds" waiting at a train depot for their ride to a local riverboat landing where they will make a steamboat connection to Jacksonville for their return journey north.  In this mural, as well as in some of the others, the viewer is to find some small object, in this mural it is a feather floating between the man in the brown suit and the man next to him.  Also in the picture many of the travelers are holding bag of oranges.
In the mural, "Living at the Landmark" the story of this restored hotel is depicted in its windows.  Each one gives a snapshot of some winter visitors in the 1930s and 1940s.  There were originally windows where the mural is now but they had to be blocked in when the hotel was renovated in 1997.  The owners saw the mural as a decorative solution to a problem wall.  Each window's mural was painted off-site.
There is also a sculpture walk in DeLand.  Across from where we had parked our car an artist was busy constructing the newest sculpture which he titled "Pac-Man".  Craig Gray, from Key West, told us that his man, made of rocks and cement, was a hiker carrying a back-pack.  He had submitted a drawing of his work to DeLand and it was chosen from many other entrants to be a part of the Sculpture Walk.  I must say that we had a delightful time during our afternoon in this town, it certainly has many pleasant surprises!

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