Stetson University Walking Tour

Updated: Oct 5, 2019

Yes, it’s that Stetson

The university is named after one of its founders, John B. Stetson. Yes, he’s the same Stetson who started the famous company that makes the cowboy hats and boots…you know, those big 10 gallon hats that Tom Mix & Buffalo Bill Cody wore and also worn by actors like Harrison Ford, countless country western music stars and even president Ronald Regan. Although Stetson’s products are perhaps more thought of as being connected to the state of Texas, it’s not as well known that John Stetson was a winter resident of DeLand, Florida and his huge estate was the first of its kind in the area.

Stetson did well for himself and he wanted to give back to the community. He was a generous benefactor and funded many charitable organizations…especially focused on education. Which brings us to Stetson University; the institution was originally named DeLand Academy but was renamed Stetson University in 1889 to honor John Stetson, who was one of the school’s main benefactors.

Here’s a video about the history of the John B. Stetson Company:

Stetson Mansion

As a side-note: You can tour the Stetson Mansion, by appointment, and see the amazing luxury estate that was the winter home for the Stetsons. According to TripAdvisor, the highly ranked mansion tour is a “Must visit when in DeLand, Florida”.

The estate is also a beautiful venue for weddings, receptions and other events.

Visit their website for more information:

Palm Court Quad

Start off your self-guided walking tour of Stetson University at the busiest area on campus, the Palm Court Quad. If it’s a hot day you can bring or purchase some cold drinks to hang out and if it’s during a time when classes are in session, just people watch. The Palm Court grove is made up of around 300 sabal palms, Florida's state tree, planted as part of a major redesign of the space in 2010-12 in an effort to shift to featuring native Florida plant species for university garden and common spaces.

Palm Court is used as an official event venue for campus activities and is also used as a casual space for unofficial activities. It’s not uncommon to see the palm trees used by students to string up a hammock to study and read in comfort in the shade.

Here’s an official video tour of the Palm Court Quad:

Florida Native Landscape Arboretum (area surrounding the Gillespie Museum)

The 22+ year old arboretum features over 325 trees and large representing 52 species native to the region. All plants have flourished without fertilizers, chemicals, or excessive irrigation. The arboretum serves as an area to educate the public and also as an outdoor classroom for undergraduates developing research projects on plant ecology, ornithology, introductory biology, and nature writing.

Here’s a current map and plant list key:

Gillespie Museum and the Rinker Environmental Learning Center

After you finish wandering the grounds of the arboretum feasting your eyes on native plants you can cool off at the Gillespie Museum and take in the amazing collection of rock and gem specimens and geological/natural science exhibits. There is no admissions fee but all donations support educational programming.

Hours and info on special exhibits can be found here:

Open to the public January through April and August through December 234 E. Michigan Ave., DeLand, FL 32723 386-822-7330

Hand Art Center

Stetson University’s Hand Art Center houses an extensive collection of art by Modernist painter Oscar Bluemner (1867-1938). The 5,000-square-foot art center includes two galleries; one with rotating exhibit selections from the Vera Bluemner Kouba Collection and the second for exhibits of other works from the university’s permanent art collection or for special shows. The $2.2 million building also houses the Second Stage Theater.

All Art Center Events:

Second Stage Theater (located inside the Hand Art Center)

Enjoy live theater shows performed by Stetson University theater arts students. Shows are open to the public and very reasonably priced. For more information check out the Second Stage event calendar:

School of Music Concerts at Lee Chapel

The university’s major performance venue, Lee Chapel, is located in historic Elizabeth Hall. The beautiful, 100-year-old performance venue seats 700 and boasts acoustical properties well-suited to the performance of classical music. An added treat: Lee Chapel houses the School of Music's renowned Beckerath organ as well as two Steinway concert grand pianos.

Visit the School of Music’s calendar for information on concerts:

Stetson University Hatters Athletic Events

Come and cheer for Stetson’s own “Hatters” at a home game of your choice. You can find schedule and ticket information for Hatters football, baseball, softball, volleyball & soccer events here:

Stetson University Bookstore & Gift Shop

What campus tour is complete without a visit to the campus store to cruise for some official “Hatters” swag?

421 N Woodland Blvd, DeLand, FL 32723 Hours & Contact info:


DeLand Campus Map:

DeLand rentals for Stetson University Events:

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