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DeLand, Florida

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DeLand, Florida

City of DeLand
Old Volusia County Courthouse
Old Volusia County Courthouse
Official seal of DeLand
Nickname(s): The Athens of Florida
Location in Volusia County and the state of Florida
Location in Volusia County and the state of Florida
Coordinates: [1]
Country United States
State Florida
County Volusia
Founded 1876
Incorporated 1882
Founded by Henry Addison DeLand
 • Type Council–manager
 • Mayor Robert F. Apgar
 • City manager Michael P. Pleus
 • Total 18.7 sq mi (48.5 km2)
 • Land 18.5 sq mi (47.9 km2)
 • Water 0.2 sq mi (0.5 km2)
Elevation[2] 36 ft (11 m)
Population (2012)[3]
 • Total 27,447
 • Density 1,536.1/sq mi (593.1/km2)
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code(s) 32720–32724
Area code(s) 386
FIPS code 12-16875[3]
GNIS feature ID 0281473[2]

DeLand is a city in the U.S. state of Florida. It is the county seat of Volusia County. The city sits approximately 34 miles (55 km) north of the central business district of Orlando, and approximately 23 miles (37 km) west of the central business district of Daytona Beach. As of the 2010 U.S. Census, the city had a population of 27,031. It is a part of the Deltona–Daytona Beach–Ormond Beach, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area, which was home to 494,804 people as of the 2011 U.S. Census estimates.

The city was founded in 1876, and was named for its founder, Henry Addison DeLand. DeLand is home to Stetson University, Florida's oldest private college, as well as the Museum of Florida Art. The DeLand Municipal Airport serves as an uncontrolled general aviation reliever airport to commercial operations at Daytona Beach International Airport (DAB), Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB) and Orlando International Airport (MCO).

On February 2, 2007, DeLand and the surrounding area was the site of a major tornado outbreak.[4]


Known as Persimmon Hollow for the wild persimmon trees that grow around the natural springs, the area was originally accessible only by steamboat up the St. Johns River. It was settled in 1874 by Captain John Rich, who built a log cabin. Henry Addison DeLand, a baking soda magnate from Fairport, New York, visited there in 1876, and envisioned building a citrus, agricultural and tourism center. That year he bought land and founded the town, naming it after himself.[5] He sold his northern business and hired people to clear land, lay out streets, erect buildings and recruit settlers, most of whom came from upstate New York. (However, he never lived in the city year-round.) The City of DeLand was officially incorporated in 1882, and became the county seat of Volusia County in 1887. It was the first city in Florida to have electricity.

In 1877 Henry A. DeLand built a public school for the town in 1877.[5] To enhance the community's stature and culture, and to enhance the value of his local real estate holdings, in 1883 Henry A. DeLand established DeLand Academy, Florida's first private college.[5] However, in 1885, a freeze destroyed the orange crop. One story has it that DeLand had guaranteed settlers' investments as an inducement to relocate, and so was obligated to buy back their ruined groves, though there is no hard evidence that this actually happened. Like many other would-be real estate magnates in the area at the time, his Florida investments were nearly worthless after the freeze, and he returned to his home in the North. DeLand entrusted the academy to his friend John B. Stetson, a wealthy hat manufacturer from Philadelphia and one of the institution's founding trustees. In 1889, it was renamed John B. Stetson University in its patron's honor. In 1900 it founded the first law school in Florida (relocated to Gulfport in 1954). Its various sports teams are called the Hatters.

During the 1920s Florida Land Boom, DeLand's streets filled with fine examples of stucco Mediterranean Revival architecture by native architect Medwin Peek and others, many of which have been handsomely restored, one being the recently reopened Athens Theatre.

Since 1992, the city has hosted the DeLand Fall Festival of the Arts, a two-day event in the historic downtown area. As of 2009, the event has an annual attendance of more than 50,000 over the weekend immediately prior to Thanksgiving each year.



DeLand is located at ,[1] approximately halfway between Orlando and Daytona Beach.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 17.8 square miles (46.1 km2), of which 17.6 square miles (45.6 km2) is land and 0.19 square miles (0.5 km2), or 1.06%, is water.[6] DeLand is drained by the St. Johns River.


Annual Dog Parade

As of the census[3] of 2000, there were 20,904 people, 8,375 households, and 4,631 families residing in the city. The population density was 1317.1/mi² (506.8/km²). There were 9,272 housing units at an average density of 584.2 per square mile (225.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 74.96% White, 19.18% African American, 0.22% Native American, 0.81% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 3.00% from other races, and 1.80% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 8.73% of the population.

There were 8,375 households out of which 23.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.0% were married couples living together, 14.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 44.7% were non-families. 37.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 20.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.22 and the average family size was 2.92.

In the city the population was spread out with 20.7% under the age of 18, 14.9% from 18 to 24, 23.2% from 25 to 44, 17.6% from 45 to 64, and 23.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 83.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 77.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $28,712, and the median income for a family was $35,329. Males had a median income of $26,389 versus $20,114 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,936. About 14.2% of families and 19.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 31.3% of those under age 18 and 8.7% of those age 65 or over.

Historic districts

Athens Theater, built in 1921
New York Avenue in 1905
DeLand Hall, built in 1884

Downtown DeLand's main street, Woodland Boulevard, has a number of notable 19th century buildings. It is officially known as Downtown DeLand Historic District.

The Garden District is a mixed-use neighborhood adjacent to downtown DeLand, which is officially known as Downtown DeLand's Historic Garden District. The neighborhood was originally developed between 1900 and 1920. It fell into a long period of decline after World War II, and by the 1980s had become blighted.[7]

In 2001, Michael E. Arth, a California artist, urban designer and filmmaker, bought twenty-seven dilapidated structures, renamed the area the Garden District, and lobbied to create a new historic district. During the following eight years he restored or rebuilt 32 homes and businesses, which have become the core of a neighborhood revival. A feature length documentary film, New Urban Cowboy: Toward a New Pedestrianism, tells the story of DeLand and the Garden District.[8] The film premiered in DeLand in January 2009 at the newly restored Athens Theatre. Previously, the film had appeared in seven film festivals and received the Audience Choice Award at the Real to Reel International Film Festival in 2008.



  • Brandywine Shopping Center
  • DeLand Flea Market
  • DeLand Plaza Shopping Center
  • Northgate Shopping Center
  • Woodland Plaza
  • West Volusia Regional Shopping Center


Public primary and secondary education is handled by Volusia County Schools.

Elementary schools

  • Saint Peters Catholic School
  • Blue Lake Elementary
  • Freedom Elementary
  • George W. Marks Elementary
  • Edith I. Starke Elementary
  • Woodward Avenue Elementary
  • Citrus Grove Elementary
  • Saint Barnabas Episcopal School
  • Children's House Montessori School

Middle schools

  • DeLand Middle School
  • Southwestern Middle School
  • Saint Barnabas Episcopal School
  • Saint Peters Catholic School

High schools

Colleges and universities

Sports and recreation

DeLand hosts all home games for Stetson University Hatters athletic teams. The men's and women's basketball teams play at the J. Ollie Edmunds Center, an on-campus arena which opened in 1974 and seats approximately 5,000 spectators.

The Hatters baseball team plays at Melching Field at Conrad Park, a 2,500-seat ballpark located off campus just south of downtown DeLand. Melching Field was built in 1999 and is recognized as one of the finer college baseball venues in the NCAA, having hosted numerous Atlantic Sun Conference championships and other baseball related tournaments and events. Prior to the opening of Melching Field, the Hatters played at old Conrad Park on the same site, which also hosted spring training games in the 1940s and 1950s and the DeLand Red Hats, a Florida State League minor league franchise.

Adjacent to Melching Field is Spec Martin Stadium, a 6,000-seat football stadium. Spec Martin Stadium currently hosts DeLand High School Bulldog football and soccer games. The stadium serves as home of the Stetson University Hatters football team. (The school had discontinued its football program in the early 1960s, but reinstated the sport in 2013, when it joined the Pioneer Football League.) As part of Stetson's re-entry into college football, Spec Martin Stadium has undergone significant renovations, including a new press box, handicapped and premium seating areas, and new locker room facilities.

DeLand has been called the "skydiving capital of the world", with the majority of skydiving industries calling it home.[9] The skydiving industry employs over 500 workers from the DeLand area. This in combination with the tourist end of the industry makes it one of the town's largest supporters and invaluable to the local economy.[10][11]

In the movies

DeLand has been the filming location for a number of television and movie projects, including the 1999 Adam Sandler comedy The Waterboy. Scenes showing the fictional South Central Louisiana State University Mud Dogs home football games were shot at Spec Martin Stadium. Classroom and exterior scenes were filmed at Stetson University. Scenes involving Sandler's character's home were actually filmed in neighboring DeBary. Ghost Story, starring Fred Astaire, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr and Craig Wasson, was filmed in part at Stetson University and the Holiday House.

The HBO miniseries From the Earth to the Moon filmed several scenes on the campus of Stetson University. The 1999 independent film The First of May, starring Mickey Rooney and Joe DiMaggio, was shot on various locations throughout DeLand. Days of Thunder, starring Tom Cruise, was also partially filmed in DeLand.

Michael E. Arth is the town's most notable filmmaker and has made three feature documentaries in DeLand between 2007 and 2012:

New Urban Cowboy: Toward a New Pedestrianism (2008) was filmed almost entirely in DeLand in 2006 and 2007.[12][13]

Gov'nor: A Man on a Bicycle, With no Money, Takes on the Fat Cats, Dirty Politics (and his Wife) to run for Governor of Florida, a 2012 documentary feature film by Michael E. Arth and Christopher Ramsey was filmed almost entirely in Florida, much of it in DeLand.[14]

Out of the Woods: Life and Death in Dirty Dave's Homeless Camp is a documentary feature by Michael E. Arth filmed in DeLand from 2008 to 2012.[14]

Walt Before Mickey filmed several scenes at the Stetson University campus in 2014.



Radio stations


  • WYND/1310, Religious
  • WTJV/1490, Spanish Language


Notable people

Sites of interest


Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, serves DeLand, operating its Silver Meteor and Silver Star trains daily in both directions between Miami and New York City.

Local transit service is provided by VOTRAN on the #20 and #60 routes.[15]

During the Second World War, the Babcock Airplane Corporation manufactured 60 Waco CG-4 assault gliders at DeLand,[16] but the firm was out of business by 1945.[17]


  1. ^ a b c "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990".  
  2. ^ a b "US Board on Geographic Names".  
  3. ^ a b c "American FactFinder".  
  4. ^ "Tornadoes kill at least 19 in Florida". CNN. 3 February 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-21. 
  5. ^ a b c  
  6. ^ "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): DeLand city, Florida". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved February 14, 2012. 
  7. ^ Carolanne Griffith Roberts, "Saving a Neighborhood", Southern Living Magazine, April 2004, Florida Living pp. 22-25.
  8. ^ "The New Urban Cowboy: Michael E. Arth Transforms "Cracktown" into Historic Garden District in DeLand", DeLand Magazine, Jan/Feb 2008, by Teri Pruden
  9. ^ "local-business | | News-Journal". Retrieved 2012-12-18. 
  10. ^ Horton, Jen (February 15, 2011). "DeLand still debating 2 skydive centers". West Volusia Beacon. Retrieved 19 June 2012. 
  11. ^ Whitney, Valerie (May 10, 2012). "DeLand chamber salutes area parachute businesses". Daytona Beach News-Journal. Retrieved 19 June 2012. 
  12. ^ “Seeing Stars: Reviews are in for Film Festival” Review of New Urban Cowboy by Jeff Farance, Daytona News Journal, October 4, 2007, 8E
  13. ^ The New Urban Cowboy: Michael E. Arth Transforms "Cracktown" into Historic Garden District in DeLand," DeLand Magazine, Jan/Feb 2008, by Teri Pruden
  14. ^ a b viewable on YouTube
  15. ^
  16. ^ Andrade, John M., "U.S. Military Aircraft Designations and Serials since 1909", Midland Counties Publications, Earl Shilton, Leister, UK, 1979, ISBN 0-904597-22-9, page 96.
  17. ^

External links

  • City of DeLand official website
  • DeLand Area Chamber of Commerce official website
  • DeLand Public Library
  • DeLand Guide
  • DeLand Fall Festival of the Arts
  • History of DeLand, Florida
  • The Florida Agriculturist, historical newspaper for DeLand, Florida fully and openly available in the Florida Digital Newspaper Library
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