The Renovation by Alice Atkins McCoy

We Americans have the habit of taking on projects and/or causes that are far too large for us. It is who we are and what fortifies our spirit. Saving and restoring the John B. Stetson Mansion, on the registry of National Historic Places, is one of those missions - both overwhelming and gratifying.

According to popular wisdom, most everything of enduring consequence has been accomplished by a small group of dedicated persons. I began learning this firsthand over 35 years ago when I was president of a preservation society, but I've seen nothing to match the response here at the John B. Stetson Mansion!

Instead of relying on grants or taxpayer subsidies to restore this historic treasure, Michael and JT, self-described as "two crazy guys who dream big,"  decided to pursue an unusual concept. They began asking everyone from longtime acquaintances to perfect strangers if they would like to participate in a showcase in which they could display their products, their designs and/or their artistic skills.

The response was amazing and the results exciting! As soon as persons would arrive at the mansion and experience the splendor, they would answer "yes!" Inspired by the dream of restoring such exotic architecture and a significant venue of American history, hundreds of restorations - stepped forward to give generously of their time, materials, design ideas and moral support. Michael and JT will tell you they are even more convinced the America's strength is in our ability to work together!

Thus, the real story behind the restoration is the huge group effort that made this project happen. Hundreds of restoration partners both large and small joined our efforts to preserve what is probably central Florida's grandest and most historic home. We are extremely grateful to those countless volunteers and vendors who were willing to take a chance and join in our enthusiasm, vision and our passion. Because of them, another unknown venue of American history and exotic architecture will be enchanting generations to come.

The diverse group of individuals working together felt as though we were watering a parched plant whose leaves had turned brown and watched as it began to sprout new leaves and produce new blooms. It has been exciting to see the pride each and every contributor or artisan has taken in this monumental project.

I hope all visitors to the Mansion will be pleased with the "new look of the mansion." This renovation is considered an adaptive restoration with the concept that if the members of the Stetson family still occupied the mansion they would have updated the kitchen and baths and many of the furnishings.

The renovation incorporates the latest technology in appliances and decorative arts.

The designers, whether they were creating living spaces indoors or wonderful interesting areas in the gardens, donated many hours. Please take note of their spaces and the products used in this restoration and remember them when you are in need of their services or products. Also, note the special faux finishes provided by various artisans who shared their many talents with us. Many people, some of them traveling great distances, helped breathe new life into this magnificent structure.

Our partners are providing you the pleasure of touring a spectacular home while shopping for new design ideas, products, art, and services. If you see something that interests you please contact one of our partners. 

The Museum of Florida Art was the beneficiary of the original Stetson Mansion Designer Showcase. The proceeds from the Art in Autumn event held here went to their general operation fund while one hundred percent of the admission proceeds went to fund their youth programs. Perhaps someday one of the youths taking part in the museum art programs will create some work of art or architecture to be appreciated as much as this unusual and beautiful place.