The Sans-Souci Cottage (also sometimes called the Shimer House), which still stands at 439 N. Clara Ave. in DeLand, Florida, was the final dwelling-place of both Frances Shimer and Adelia Joy. Mrs. Shimer began spending the winters in DeLand in 1883, as her tuberculosis worsened, and the cottage was completed in approximately 1885. It is one of the oldest residential buildings in DeLand, and is the only building of Frances Shimer's construction still standing. During the lives of Shimer and Joy, it was surrounded by orange groves, the last few trees of which lingered into the 1930s.

At the time, the cottage was considered to be located at the corner of Clara and Minnesota, although it is now separated from Minnesota by a row of houses, and is equidistant between Clara and Sans-Souci, which takes its name from the cottage. The cottage is located a few blocks from Stetson University, the president of which was a frequent visitor during Shimer's final years.


After Joy's death in 1903, the cottage was purchased by a family by the name of Pattison.

The name sans-souci, meaning "free from care", was first used for a dwelling place by Frederick the Great, who gave that name to his summer palace. However, it was also the name of a popular hotel in Ballston Spa, near where Frances Shimer grew up; it is unclear exactly where she took the name from.


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  • in "Historic Homes Put On Finery for Annual Tour", Orlando Sentinel, 1992-12-03:
    Gary and Mary Ann Rogers' house, 439 N. Clara Ave. Built about 1885, the house is one of DeLand's oldest residential buildings. Originally set within a large orange grove, it was built as a retreat and retirement home for Frances Shimer, an educator.
  • in "Family Made House a Home to Neighbors", James Fisher, News-Journal, 1993-01-21:
    In looking at the November picture for the West Volusia Historical Society's 1993 Historic Calendar, I was initially puzzled by its description as "the Shimer House" and by its location. According to Jack Fortes, who kindly had penciled the address for me, it was at 493 N. Clara Ave., a neighborhood I thought I knew well. After puzzling over it for a couple of days, it suddenly struck me that it was the "Hays house," which -- to my mind -- wasn't really identified with Clara Avenue. Rather it stood right in the middle of the block with access to both Clara and Sans Souci Avenues.
    The descriptive paragraph on the calendar never mentioned the Hayses living there, but it finally did clue me in as to how the name Sans Souci ended up on a DeLand street. "Sans souci" is a French phrase meaning "without care." The Prussian King, Frederick the Great (1740-86), always preferred the French language to his native German, which he regarded as too coarse and guttural. When Frederic built himself a country palace for getaway weekends, he named it "Sans Souci."
    Well, the Shimer house was originally built as a getaway home for Frances Shimer, a professional educator from Chicago. She named it "Sans Souci Cottage" and though the name did not stick to the house, it was applied to the street that was later plotted through the west side of the orange grove that surrounded the house.


  • in DeLand Weekly News, 1904-02-06, p. 5:
    Mr. Pattison and family have rented the Shimer house and will move in about January 1.
    George J. Barker, executor of the estate of Miss Joy, has decided to place on the market the beautiful lots in the old DeLand grove, between Grove place and Clara avenue.
  • in Artist Draws On History For Calendar, Dianne Copelon, Orlando Sentinel, 1993-10-17:
    "Each house is different and has something unique about it. So I find it hard to say one or the other is my favorite," Gunderson said. "But I may be partial to the folk Victorian style Shimer house on Clara Avenue. That was the first historic house I sketched in DeLand last year."

This page is part of the Shimer College Wiki, an independent documentation project. Shimer College, the Great Books college of Chicago, is not responsible for its content.

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