Driving down 17-92 between DeBary and DeLand in Volusia County, one might never realize the town of Orange City actually has a very rich history.
Just off the main corridor sits a quaint historic district that includes over 200 buildings. The community’s origins date back to the late 1800s when a lumber company from Wisconsin started buying up land. Hugh H. DeYarman opened a large resort hotel among the orange groves in 1876, the only one of its kind in the area for many years.
The hotel still operates today as the 1876 Heritage Inn and includes 30 rooms, a cafe and a post office museum. The wrap-around porch is a relaxing place to take in the beautiful Florida weather.
Over the last few decades, commercialism has been encroaching on the old hotel and other structures in the historic district, some of which have fallen into disrepair. For that reason, the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation has added the district to its list of the 11 Most Endangered Historic Sites in the state. The organization works with local preservationists, giving them tools and resources to help save the buildings.
After watching traffic zip by on 17-92, much of the battle will be awareness and educating locals and visitors alike that an Orange City historic district even exists.