Stetson University

DeLand, Fl

Elizabeth Hall

Stetson University was founded by Henry A. DeLand  in 1884 as DeLand Academy.  He and Dr. John H. Griffin had opened it the previous year. Not only did DeLand pay the teachers, build the building with his own money but he also began the town of DeLand and was its first inhabitant.  He bought a large amount of land and proceeded to map out streets and build houses and buildings for residents to move into when they decided to settle in his town all at his own expense.  Those early settlers decided the name of the town should be DeLand, named after him.  


In October of 1884 the newly completed DeLand Hall was built at a cost of $4,000.00 and  is today the oldest continuously used higher educational  building in Florida.  1885 saw a name change from DeLand Academy to DeLand College.  It's first president was John F. Forbes, 32, who was personally selected by DeLand.  He remained in that position until 1904.  His credentials were his graduation from Rochester University, former professor at the State Normal School, Brockport, N.Y.  His beginning salary was $2,000. a year  and room and board for he and his family. With the influx of more people, the college grew as well from 88 to 300 in 1904.  More buildings; Stetson, Chaudoin, Elizabeth (pictured above) and Flagler Halls  were added to accomodate the growth.as well as a President's home.  Prior to building the home, Stetson Hall had been a multipurpose building with .living quarters for the Forbes, offices, a dining room, a kitchen and a room for the preceptress.  This building with such modern comveniences as a furnace and running water on all three floors cost $12,000. to construct.


In 1886  The Florida State Legislature chartered DeLand College as DeLand University.  It was renamed in 1888 to John B. Stetson University.  Stetson's first intermural football game was played on Nov. 29, 1894 and drew hundreds of spectators.  A School of Business Administration was added in 1897 and the Stetson University College of Law, Florida's first law school, opened in 1900.


Stetson attracted Henry M. Flagler's interest and he gifted the university with $60,000.  The three story building was similar to buildings he financed was in the Mediterranean style which was used in other projects he built in St. Augustine and Palm Beach.  Flagler Hall opened in 1903 but was not named such until after Flagler's death in 1913.  He reqeusted his gift be kept secred fearing other schools would wish him to do likewise for them.


In 1904 there was a new president, Lincoln, 39.   He has had the longest tenure of any of the school's presidents. Prior to coming to Stetson, He graduated from Bucknell University , doing post-grad work at Harvard.  He then taught history at Bucknell and moved on to his position at Stetson. He was a man who knew how to manage his time, serving in the Florida Senate for two terms while serving as president of Stetson.  More students brought the student body to 500 and six buildings were added to the campus. He died without retiring in 1934.


Another prominent philanthropist, Andrew Carengie, financed Sampson Hall which opened in 1908.  John Stetson's wife contributed a matching gift of $40,000, for endowment.  This building was designed by the first Floridian to earn membership in the American Institute of Architects, John Klutho.  It's classic Neoclassicism is repeated in many other Carnegie Libraries.

C. T. Sampson, a unviersity trustee, contributed for years to the Stetson's library fund and willed another $20,000 for a library endowment upon his death in 1893. The name became Sampson Hall in his honor.  


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