DeLand, Florida

DeLand, Florida
—  City  —
Old Volusia County Courthouse
Nickname(s): The Athens of Florida
Location in Volusia County and the state of Florida
Coordinates: 29°1′44″N 81°18′2″W / 29.02889°N 81.30056°W / 29.02889; -81.30056Coordinates: 29°1′44″N 81°18′2″W / 29.02889°N 81.30056°W / 29.02889; -81.30056
Country  United States
State  Florida
County  Volusia
Settled 1874
Incorporated (town) 1882
 – Type Council-Manager
 – Mayor Robert Apgar
 – City Manager Michael P. Pleus
 – City 16.1 sq mi (41.6 km2)
 – Land 15.9 sq mi (41.1 km2)
 – Water 0.2 sq mi (0.5 km2)
Elevation[1] 2 10 ft (12 m)
Population (1 July 2006)[2] 1
 – City 24,375
 – Density 1,317.1/sq mi (508.5/km2)
 – Metro 436,575
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 – Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 32720-32724
Area code(s) 386
FIPS code 12-16875[3]
GNIS feature ID 0281473[4]
Website Official site

DeLand is the county seat of Volusia County, Florida. In 2006, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated the city's population to be 24,375.[2] It is part of the Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area, which had an estimated population of 436,575 in 2006.[5] The city includes the census designated place of West DeLand.

DeLand is home to Stetson University and The Museum of Florida Art. Noted for its historic architecture, the downtown has been undergoing extensive renovations in recent years. On February 2, 2007, DeLand and the surrounding area was hit by a major tornado outbreak.[6]



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. It was visited in 1876 by Henry Addison DeLand, a baking soda magnate from Fairport, New York, who envisioned here a citrus, agricultural and tourism center. That year he bought land and founded the town named for himself. He sold his northern business and hired people to clear land, and lay out streets, erect buildings and recruit settlers, most of whom came from upstate New York. Henry Deland was never a full-time resident of Florida. Incorporated in 1882, the city became county seat in 1887. It was the first city in Florida to have electricity.[citation needed]

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. But 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. Later shortened to Stetson University, in 1900 it founded the first law school in Florida. The various sports teams are called the Hatters.

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

Since 1992, the city hosts 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 29°1′44″N 81°18′2″W / 29.02889°N 81.30056°W / 29.02889; -81.30056,[7] approximately halfway between Orlando and Daytona Beach.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 16.1 square miles (42 km2), of which 15.9 square miles (41 km2)) is land and 0.2 square miles (1 km2) of which is water (1.18%). 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 WWII, and by the 1980s had become blighted.[8]

In 2001, Michael E. Arth, a California artist and urban designer, bought twenty-seven dilapidated structures, renamed the area The Garden District, and lobbied to create a new historic district. During the following 8 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.[9] 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

Area lodging

  • University Inn
  • Boulevard Motel
  • Comfort Inn
  • Chimney Corner Motel‎
  • Deland Artisan Inn‎
  • Deland Country Inn Bed & Breakfast‎
  • Deland Motel
  • Holiday Inn
  • Riviera Resort & Marina
  • Putnam Hotel
  • Howard Johnson
  • Tropical Resort & Marina


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

Elementary schools

  • Boston Ave Charter School
  • Blue Lake Elementary
  • Freedom Elementary
  • George W. Marks Elementary
  • Edith I. Starke Elementary
  • Woodward Avenue Elementary

Middle schools

  • DeLand Middle School
  • Southwestern Middle 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 had served as home of the Stetson University Hatters football team before the school discontinued its football program in the early 1960s, and will once again host Hatters football when Stetson joins the Pioneer Football League in 2013. As part of Stetson's re-entry into college football, Spec Martin Stadium is scheduled to undergo significant renovations, including a new pressbox, handicap and premium seating areas, and new locker room facilities.

DeLand is also home to Skydive DeLand. Skydive DeLand is one of the only full time skydiving facilities open 365 days a year. It is also the major training center for thousands of skydivers from all over the world. The Drop Zone has been the host and sponsors of countless National and World Champions and employs several on its staff. Additionally DeLand is considered the "skydiving capital of the world" with the majority of skydiving industries calling it home. 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 towns largest supporters and invaluable to the local economy.

In the movies

DeLand has been the filming location for several television and movie projects, with the most notable being 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. Also, Ghost Story starring Fred Astaire, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr and Craig Wasson filmed in part on Stetson University and the Holiday House.

Additionally, 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.

Several television commercials, including some for the cable network ESPN, have been filmed in DeLand.

New Urban Cowboy: Toward a New Pedestrianism (2008) was filmed almost entirely in DeLand in 2006 and 2007.[10][11]



  • The Daytona Beach News-Journal - Online edition of daily newspaper covering the Greater Daytona Beach Area.
  • The DeLand-Deltona Beacon - Weekly news publication covering DeLand and West Volusia.
  • Orlando Sentinel - Newspaper and news site based in Orlando with a bureau covering Volusia County.

Radio stations


  • WYND/1310 Religious
  • WTJV/1490 Spanish Language


  • W247AK/97.3 translator for WJLU
  • WOCL/105.9 Classic Hits

Notable residents

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.


  1. ^ "DeLand, Florida (32720)". Weather Underground. Retrieved 2007-07-21. 
  2. ^ a b "Annual Estimates of the population for the Incorporated Places of Florida" (XLS). US Census Bureau. Retrieved 2007-07-20. 
  3. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  4. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  5. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Population of Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2006" (XLS). U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2007-07-17. [dead link]
  6. ^ "Tornadoes kill at least 19 in Florida". CNN. 3 February 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-21. 
  7. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  8. ^ Carolanne Griffith Roberts, "Saving a Neighborhood", Southern Living Magazine, April 2004, Florida Living pp. 22-25.
  9. ^ "The New Urban Cowboy: Michael E. Arth Transforms "Cracktown" into Historic Garden District in DeLand", DeLand Magazine, Jan/Feb 2008, by Teri Pruden
  10. ^ “Seeing Stars: Reviews are in for Film Festival” Review of New Urban Cowboy by Jeff Farance, Daytona News Journal, October 4, 2007, 8E
  11. ^ The New Urban Cowboy: Michael E. Arth Transforms "Cracktown" into Historic Garden District in DeLand," DeLand Magazine, Jan/Feb 2008, by Teri Pruden

External links

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