John Dutton House

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The John Dutton House in 1911

Deep in the heart of Deland, Florida sits a Neo-classical mansion known as the John Dutton House. The enormous home was built by John Wesley Dutton, a Georgia native, who made his fortune owning naval stores and lumber. His business empire controlled much of the turpentine harvest at the turn of the 20th century when citrus, turpentine, and lumber were Central Florida’s primary industries.

The architectural firm of Cairns & Fitcher drafted the plans in a Neo-Classical genre and local contractor Gus Lauman supervised its construction. The 8,000-square-foot mansion was completed in 1911 at a cost of $25,000. The large home features full-height Corinthian columns that supported tiered verandas with scroll brackets, modillions, and dentils along the frieze and ceramic tile panels in the gable ends and the on the roof. The John Dutton House is one of the last of Volusia County’s most heavily ornamented early twentieth-century residences.

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An early photo of the parlor room

In 1924, Dutton and his family traded homes with the vice president of a local bank. The house was sold in the 1940s and converted into the Griffith-Stith Funeral Parlor. It remained a funeral home for almost 20 years before being converted into a meeting hall. Soon after it was sold and renovated into apartments. In its later years, the property was converted into the Colonial Guest Home which rented rooms to tourists before being converted into the Colonial Arms Apartments. The bank foreclosed on the property in 1990 and placed it for sale for $129,000. Without a buyer, the bank applied for a demolition permit which was approved by the Deland City Commission.

In 1992, the house was saved from impending demolition after a couple offered the bank $90,000. The house suffered from extensive termite damage and would require $225,000 or more in renovations. The new owners estimated the restoration to take five years and created a nonprofit organization to help restore the house. The goal was to return the house to its original charm and allow opening it to the public as a museum or wedding venue. Unfortunately, the new owner fell ill and asked the city to take over the restoration effort. The city felt it would be better served if a nonprofit specifically established for the Dutton House resumed restoration.

In 1995, the nonprofit Historic Deland Inc. was established. This board was able to apply for and did receive several grants through the state that allowed for the restoration to continue. Over time the board diminished and a new board was established in 2005. The new board changed the name to Dutton House Inc. to reduce confusion with the Historical Society of Deland and was awarded two grants allowing restoration to continue until 2008. Due to the recession, no funds were allocated by the state in 2008 or the following three years after. Now, almost 25 years since restoration began, the house remains unfinished.

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John Dutton House in 2016
Money Pit
The John Dutton House in 2019
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The two-story porch is supported by four plaster columns capped by elaborate Corinthian designs.
Money Pit
Ornate mahogany columns greeted guests in the foyer along with elaborate plasterwork throughout the downstairs.
Money Pit
Money Pit
After serving as a residence, the house was converted into a funeral home and later apartments before falling into disrepair.
Money Pit
The entire home was constructed using mahogany. A right-angle staircase is one of the home’s many unique features.
Money Pit
The downstairs parlor room, 2019
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John Dutton House, 2016
Money Pit
A Civil War-era Stieff square grand piano
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Materials for a pending renovation were stored inside the home.
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The third floor.

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29 comments

  1. Amazing photos. I teach history, not U.S., world.
    I met you in the Community Pool where you indicated you are a new blogger. I help new bloggers at my site. Tips for engaging readers, improving content, and increasing traffic are waiting for you. I brought you the link to my About page, so you can read more about my blog. I also have regular networking opportunities and offer free incentives for subscribing.
    http://mostlyblogging.com/about/
    Janice

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Is the Antique square piano still there ? If so , Could it be possibly for sale ? It appears to look good for as long as it has been sitting there. I know there is plenty of work to be done to it from just sitting there. Thank you

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      2. Good afternoon do you know who owns this house currently and what is the address of this home? Not looking to buy if you could please email me back as soon as possible i would really appreciate it.

        Like

  2. Dig the historical aspects to the work. Far too often, shooters just want “the shot” as a trophy. Your attention to detail shows.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. That’s where I met you too – the Community Pool on Janice Wald’s blog! So you were a new blogger back then – well congratulations for still being here – a few I tried from that list have since gone. This house is really beautiful but I find it quite eerie and brooding to look at. Like it is waiting for something just like in a horror film!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello everyone, I think it is so sad how these million dollar mansions and billion dollar mansions get abandon that is such a waste of money, why would a single person buy a million dollar mansions just for themself that’s a waste they should just buy a 3 or 4 bedroom home instead and when they get too old to take care of the mansion or they have problems with the mansion and don’t have they money to repair that’s a waste of money and most of the times the family don’t want that responsibility too much money and too many problems so just buy a 3 or 4 bedroom home and save money all these abandon multi million dollar mansions is being wasted so sad

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      1. Where is this house located, I would just like to drive by and see it. I live in central Florida and after reading your story it would cool to see if it’s not to far away.

        Thank you

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  4. I wonder if the couple would be open to selling this home for a low price so someone else could take on renovations? It’s actually in fantastic shape for a house that old. Termite, electrical, and plumbing repairs alone would be in the 1 million dollar range. Restoration in total probably about 2 million if you were going to fill the home with some furniture and trinkets from that era. Add in the paint and wood repairs plus more modern amenities. I can’t imagine what the kitchen and grounds look like. Probably another $20,000 to fix any landscaping or pools.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hey there! Is there any shot of renting this space for a film shoot? I’m trying to find some more info on this and if anyone could help I’d greatly appreciate it. I’m looking for an abandoned-looking interior space similar to this that would allow filming.

    Thanks!

    Like

  6. Not bashing but just curious. Are you also trespassing to take these photos for your blog? Or do you get in contact with the city and like get a permit to go on the grounds?

    Like

  7. Wow, another really cool article, not just a photo dump like so many other urbex sites.
    About this one I have a question though:
    “No concrete proof has ever been found that the Money Pit is haunted.”
    Has there ever been concrete proof (scientific proof) that any place is haunted?

    Like

  8. I am a photographer from Tampa, I found this location online but can’t seem to find the town or information on who owns it. I’d like to contact the owners to see about getting permission to do a photo shoot there that will be getting published. Can you help me out with that information?

    Like

  9. Hi . I wanted yo know if the property is still for sale? I am looking for a abandon mansion to buy. Thanks I await your response.

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  10. I am interested in purchasing. I am at the end of another large restoration and need to line up another project. Please provide me contact information. Thank you, Mike Howard

    Like

  11. Isn’t that the Koreshan House.. needs an exorcism.. Need to “appease the original owners” … An old house needs love and solve its problems, hurts and pains before you can solve the houses problems, hurts and pains…

    Like

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