We were given access to the DeBary Hall by West Volusia Tourism to facilitate our review. All opinions expressed are our own.
On our latest getaway trip we ventured into West Volusia in Florida. A little North of Orlando. We were on our way to visit the DeBary Hall. It was a big treat for us because Sr. Cool is very interested in History, and on the way of life in times passed. A treat for me because in getting there we were totally lost which gave us the luxury of enjoying fabulous streets, home and lush Florida green.
It is not often that we come face to face with Florida history so this is a total treat for us. This particular home takes us to the post civil war time, when it was all about reconstruction:
|Beautiful and Lush Florida Vegetation|
DeBary Hall was the winter home of a European-born wine merchant who chose the St. Johns River country for his hunting estate. Beginning in the 1870s, New Yorker Frederick deBary acquired lands near Lake Monroe, built a large vacation house, and tried his hand at orange growing and commercial steamboating.. A perfect retreat for some R&R, hunting, hosting and entertaining located at 198 Sunrise Blvd.
DeBary, FL 32713 . And Entertaining they did. The home has had important guests such as Presidents Grant and Cleveland.
The visit begins with a 15 minute film explaining the significance and importance of the St. John River. A river that is visibly at a distance from the DeBary house itself. Understanding this explains the relationship of the house and the way of live of the period. The short movie is wastched on a rotation platform and a 3 panel screen that really gives you the feeling of being aboard a steam boat. Getting you ready for the journey as a guest of a house would have in its glory days.
|Front Facade of the Victorian Home|
Photos are not permitted in the house, so I hope our descriptions will give you a good idea of what you can expect from your visist when you go.
The DeBary's only spent a month or two a year at the house. Nevertheless, they spare no cost, luxury or whim on the house.
Before entering the house, we discovered a good size ice house. Transported by boat from the north, the ice was stored in a shed in the backyard and transfered into the very big ice box in the kitchen as needed. True luxury to for the time. The house itself has a few pieces here and there. It is not completely furnished. Nevertheless, this highlights the great ammenities in the house.
Here is a list of what stood out for us:
- Service bells: In every room in the house we found door bells. These were a system of pulleys used to summon service from the house help. It all connected to a system that was monitored from the kitchen. As rings were pressed, a box in the kitchen would indicate the number of the room in the house the request came from. Pretty advanced for its times! Then again Ford and Eddision were friends with the owners and we all know about their creativity and innovations for the times
- Ice box: like we mentioned before the house boasted an ice house and an ice box. The ice box was impressive because of its size and also the intricate ornate doors and metalwork it has.
- As no running water system was in place back then, what looks like gutters is actually a water collection system that uses the gravity system to distribute water throuhgout the house
- Taxidermy display: as a hunting home, there is a superb display of birds that have been preserved, and luckily for us we can appreciate a couple of already extint species in the collection.
- A very creative system of poles on the roof of the house was in place to deflect lightning. This would make the electricity enter one end of the house and leave through another without affecting the actual structure
- An interesting collection of art hangs on the wall of the house. This includes samples of bird identification when books where so big a page was almost postersize.
|Ice house ath the DeBary home located in the backyard|
The house is a two story unit that has had modifications at the hands of the generations that came after. This also means that services evolved, the house did too. Indoor plumbing allowed for two bathrooms to be installed (one for female guests and one for male guests) and eventually a bathroom in the main family rooms. The evolution of an armoire to a closet to store our clothes made for the house eliminate the dressing room and office of the original owner to accomodate walk in closets in the 30's.
The visit was relaxing, and took us back in time. If you get to go, we hope you get Matt as your tour guide, he was full of details and information and took his time to share his vast knowledge. It was really interesting to see the evolution of the home as daily habits were transformed with the access of new ideas and advances.
On the premises there is also a stable and a service house to discover at your pace.
|The Tenant House. Some help lived here, but home help lived in two bedrooms with quick kitchen access|
The house is available for events including weddings. I can imagine how romantinc to day "I do" with a Florida Sunset and this beautiful home as a back drop to your celebrations!
This visit really made us appreciate how despite the luxury living in Florida was hard! Plus made us really grateful for the things we take for granted today in our home.
We sure recommend it.
Keep tuned for our post on Blue Springs, a Manatee paradise.
Are you ready for your #VisitWestVolusia adventure? You definitively should Visit West Volusia!
Labels: debary, debary hall, debary house, family, Florida, history, kids, Travel, Vacations, visti west volusia