DeLand is a city in the U.S. state of Florida. It is the county seat of Volusia County. The city sits approximately north of the central business district of Orlando, and approximately 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.
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. 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. 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. 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.