Larry and Margaret Massey were the recipients of West Volusia Properties Restoration Award for restoration of 202 W. Minnesota Avenue in DeLand. The award comes with a gift certificate from Feasels Paint & Glass, the book Images of America: DeLand, and a framed photograph of the winning structure.
An eyesore since the early 1960s, the Florida Vernacular with a twist of Victorian, once again has brought additional beauty to the historic neighborhood. The house exhibits one of DeLand's last remaining "superfluously ornamented" gingerbread architectural styles dating from the Victorian era. Frilly woodwork was used extensively during the 1880s and 1890s, but the expense of installation and maintenance eventually led to its demise and was basically abandoned by the turn of the 20th Century. Thankfully though, the Masseys appreciated the structure's architectural details enough to go to the expense of restoring the building to its original unique character.
Like so many visitors to DeLand, the Masseys, Mobile, Alabama natives, fell in love with the town and decided to make it their home. In 1999 they purchased 202 W. Minnesota, Stetson University's Guest House. Extensive renovation to the interior also included exterior traces of their Mobile heritage such as adding solid iron gates and fences. The Masseys named their home "The Palms" after the majestic trees lining the entrance. George Johns, 93, vows "the palms have been there as far back as I can remember." He's probably right because the extant palms in front of Stetson's Flagler and Sampson Halls were planted in the late 1800s and are still thriving.
As their home became more handsome, the Masseys cast their eyes east to the dilapidated structure next door. In 2002, giving way to temptation, they purchased the run down building, naming it "Magnolia House" after the century-old magnolia that gracefully shades the property at the corner of Florida and Minnesota. Magnolia House brandishes lacy double front porches and a less ornate wraparound back porch. The Masseys contrast it with The Palms by describing it as masculine, while Magnolia House is feminine in style. Thus, when the Masseys fenced the Magnolia House yard they selected a French gothic picket fence supplemented with iron filigree gates to reflect the home's ornate character.
The property on which Magnolia House sits was purchased in 1876 by Henry and Sarah DeLand. Mr. and Mrs. DeLand later sold the parcel to Samuel Gordon who built the house circa 1885. Gordon, a native Virginian, became foreman at Bond's Sawmill in Glenwood. Gordon and wife, Mamie, raised three children in the house: Duke, Ammonette, and Rene. In 1911 Gordon and son, Duke, opened Gordon Garage Company, an automotive repair business, located on the Boulevard.
Gordon's daughter, Ammonette, graduated from Stetson, was DeLand High's librarian, and lived in the old homestead until she died in 1969 at the age of 79. The property then conveyed to her nephew, John Duke Ward, who sold it in 1971 to Fannie S. Kicklighter. In 1976 the property passed to Mrs. Kicklighter's daughter, Sarah Poverud and husband, Kenneth. The Masseys purchased the home from the Poveruds.
Larry and Margaret Massey, life members of the West Volusia Historical Society, have a philosophy regarding their gracious restored homes: "We're only keepers of these houses; they are products of history and belong in part to the town and its guests to enjoy."
Indeed, it is people like the Masseys who generously help DeLand protect its cultural heritage. They have restored these buildings and in so doing returned beauty to the adopted town they love.