Celebrating 140 Years: The Beginning, 1883-1892

A view of DeLand Hall with Stetson Hall in the background, circa 1890

This is the decade that started it all — with the campus literally coming to life as new buildings were constructed.

DeLand Hall opened on Oct. 13, 1884, as the first academic building on campus. The building’s original cost was $4,000. Today, DeLand Hall today is the oldest building in Florida in continuous use for higher education.

Stetson Hall was built for $12,000 in 1886.

Two years later, Stetson Hall was completed as the second building on campus. Built at a cost of $12,000, Stetson Hall opened with a furnace and running water on all of its three floors. John F. Forbes, the university’s first president, and his family resided in the building until 1903. Also, Stetson Hall might have been Florida’s first co-ed residence hall.

Chaudoin Hall was the third building to rise. Constructed in 1892, it is named W.N. Chaudoin, an early member of Stetson University’s Board of Trustees and the first recipient of an honorary degree from the university. Chaudoin Hall remains the only all-female residential facility on campus — and now boasts a new look, thanks to a makeover that includes a suite-style layout, kitchen and laundry rooms. A new elevator will be ready for use in January 2024. 

This is the south end of Chaudoin Hall as seen in 1908-1909 from Woodland Boulevard when it was a dirt road.

Finally, there is Elizabeth Hall — the building that is quintessential Stetson. Its center portion was constructed in 1892, with the asymmetrical north and south wings added in 1897. Elizabeth Hall was the first major building erected on campus by university benefactor and namesake John B. Stetson.

Elizabeth Hall taken from the west side in the 1940s

The Colonial Revival structure was designed to resemble Independence Hall in Philadelphia, which was home to John B. and his wife, Elizabeth, for whom the building is named. Architectural distinctives include a hip roof (all roof sides slope downward toward the walls), dormers, multipaned double-hung windows, transoms and French doors that open onto a third-floor balcony. Also, Elizabeth Hall features the iconic university cupola and the 700-seat Lee Chapel.

Learn more about Stetson’s 140-year anniversary and join in on the celebration throughout the fall.