Conrad Property History

On April 30, 1921, E.R. Conrad, R.H. Nahm, R.C. Spaulding and Austin U. Conrad founded Conrad Realty Company, each man contributing funds to buy stock in the new corporation. Historically, the company’s activities included agricultural pursuits as well as the buying, selling, owning, managing, subdividing and developing of real estate.

Over time, Conrad Realty Company divested itself of most of its real estate, reaping the rewards of investment in one of Central Florida’s most charming towns, the county seat of Volusia County.

Today, Conrad Realty’s sole remaining real-estate asset is one acre of commercially zoned land a half-block from the heart of Downtown DeLand.
On the property are three separate masonry buildings, all constructed by the corporation in the early 1920s.

The Conrad property reaches from the 100 block of West New York Avenue to the 100 block of West Georgia Avenue, with 167 feet of frontage on the state road. The one- and two-story buildings enclose 45,164 square feet of office, retail and warehouse space.

The American Arts and Crafts buildings, collectively known as The Conrad, are directly across busy New York Avenue from the Volusia County Historic Courthouse, built in 1926 and recently renovated by county government at a cost of $9 million. A block to the west is DeLand’s new $10 million City Hall, scheduled to open in November 2006.

The Conrad is surrounded by bustling Downtown DeLand, an award-winning Florida Main Street community that reflects the heritage of DeLand’s devotion to the arts, to education and to the creative entrepreneurial spirit.

Stetson University, on the north end of the central business district, positively influences and contributes to DeLand’s diversity and its community spirit.
Beginning in 1921, Conrad Realty Company was a key player in the development of what is today one of Florida’s healthiest downtowns. Many of the names of Conrad directors, stockholders and employees through the years are familiar to those schooled in West Volusia history.

Indeed, the notary who officiated the Company’s founding documents on April 30, 1921, was Bert Fish, who later would become one of West Volusia’s most generous benefactors, for whom the Fish hospitals and the Fish Building in Downtown DeLand are named.

The Conrad family also is known for its contributions; Robert and Hawtense Conrad donated the home on Michigan Avenue that houses the West Volusia Historical Society and a history museum, and the couple made possible restoration of the building at Bill Dreggors Park that once served as DeLand’s hospital for African-Americans.

The Conrad itself has a long and colorful history. Some of Volusia County’s best-known attorneys, including Sidney H. Taylor, James B. Clayton and Warren Cobb, once had offices there. The father of attorney and former Congressman Craig James and his twin brother, agriculturalist
and banker Greg James, operated a well-known boat and appliance dealership on the Conrad property. The complex was once home to one of DeLand’s AM radio stations, WOOO 1310 AM. In recent years, the Conrad was managed by well-known attorney Don Mathas, and, most recently, by Conrad heir Burl Coffin.

Dec. 22, 2004, marked a turning point in the history of Conrad Realty Company, when Joann Kramer and Barbara Button Shepherd, publishers of The DeLand-Deltona Beacon newspaper, and Barbara’s husband, Jeffrey D. Shepherd, purchased Conrad Realty Company from the remaining six stockholders.

The newly organized Company has a grand vision and plan for The Conrad, one of Downtown DeLand’s most significant historic properties. We see, in the future, shops for artisans and crafters, a landscaped courtyard with space for the performing arts, and an inviting pedestrian corridor that forms a key link in a relaxing off-street stroll through Downtown DeLand.

Assisted by local investors who have helped capitalize Conrad Realty Company, and by entrepreneurs who have located their businesses here, the new owners have begun the restoration process.

The future of The Conrad, however, is not one man’s or one woman’s vision. It is a partnership with the Downtown DeLand community: the entrepreneurs, the patrons, the residents and the government leaders. Perhaps this forward-looking community includes you.