Explore the intriguing history of the John Dutton House, a Neo-Classical mansion located in the heart of Deland, Florida. Discover the architectural significance and the various transformations this historical building has undergone.

Historical Background

  • Origin: The mansion was built by John Wesley Dutton, a Georgia native who amassed his wealth through naval stores and lumber.
  • Construction Details:
    • Architects: The home was designed in a Neo-Classical style by Cairns & Fitcher.
    • Builder: The construction was overseen by local contractor Gus Lauman.
    • Completion: The mansion was completed in 1911, spanning 8,000 square feet and costing $25,000.

Architectural Features

  • Exterior Design:
    • The mansion features ceramic tile panels at the gable ends and on the roof.
    • Full-height Corinthian columns support tiered verandas.
    • Additional decorations include scroll brackets, modillions, and dentils along the frieze.

Usage Over the Years

  • 1924-1940s: Initially a private residence, it was sold and converted into the Griffith-Stith Funeral Parlor.
  • Later Years:
    • Served as a conference hall and then as the Colonial Guest Home, offering rental rooms to travelers.
    • Eventually transformed into the Colonial Arms Apartments.
  • 1990 Foreclosure: Unable to find a buyer at $129,000, the bank obtained a demolition permit which was later halted by a purchase at $90,000 to prevent demolition.

Restoration Efforts

  • Initial Challenges:
    • Significant termite damage was discovered, with restoration costs estimated at least $225,000.
    • The restoration, expected to take five years, began with the establishment of a charitable organization to assist with funding.
  • Public Use Plans: The mansion was intended to be restored for use as a museum or a wedding venue.
  • Ownership Changes:
    • After the initial owner fell ill, a nonprofit organization took over the restoration efforts.
    • This led to the founding of Historic Deland, Inc. in 1995, which later changed its name to Dutton House Inc. to avoid conflicts with local historical societies.

Funding and Current Status

  • Financial Support:
    • The board was successful in obtaining state grants until 2008.
    • The economic downturn resulted in a funding freeze for the next three years.
  • Ongoing Renovation: Despite nearly 25 years of efforts, the mansion’s renovation is still incomplete, reflecting both the challenges and the community’s commitment to preserving this historical edifice.

 

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