In 1885, famous Philadelphia hat manufacturer John B. Stetson came to Florida and built an 8,500-square-foot home on a 300-acre orange grove in the small town of DeLand, Fla. Designed by architect George T. Pearson, the Stetson Mansion is widely recognized as Florida’s first luxury estate. The mansion was one of the first homes worldwide to be designed and built utilizing Edison electricity and is now recognized as a national historic property.
Curious as to what was going on, Sutherland pulled into the driveway to investigate and was welcomed by JT Thompson, the mansion’s new owner. Sutherland shared his enthusiasm for the historic structure and the two developed an instant rapport as they both had an affinity for the preservation of the historic residence.One day, local air conditioning professional Tod Sutherland, who had been driving past the Stetson Mansion for more than 35 years, watching it fall into disrepair, noticed new construction activity on the previously neglected property.