Visitors to Debary Hall will learn about the nineteenth-century tourism that overtook Florida, the period's incipient orange industry, and the lives of both the millionaires who visited and the workers whose labour kept the wheels of luxury in motion.
DeBary Hall was the winter retreat of a European-born wine merchant who chose the St. Johns River country for his hunting estate. Beginning in the 1870s, New Yorker Frederick deBary acquired lands near Lake Monroe, built a large vacation house, and tried his hand at orange growing and commercial steamboating. DeBary Hall also offers glimpses of larger things: America’s long romance with Florida, a nineteenth-century tourism boom, orange fever, and steamboating on the St. Johns. Since local African-American and white workers kept the estate going year-round, their lives are central to storytelling.