The rise and fall of the Tremont House Hotel in Lakeland, FL

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The Tremont Hotel, date unknown | Photo via Florida Memory

When you think: “hotels in Lakeland,” what comes to mind? Maybe, the Terrace Hotel but what about its predecessor, the Tremont House Hotel?

Abraham Munn, aka one of Lakeland’s founders, constructed a new hotel downtown back in 1885. Situated on the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Main Street, aka the site of the Terrace Hotel today, was the Tremont House. One of the first hotels in the area, not to be confused with Lakeland’s first modern hotel, Hotel Thelma, the Tremont House was built to hold many guests.

Why? Abraham Munn saw a need in the city for transient guests, stopping by way of Lakeland via the 20+ daily trains that made their way through town. Back in the day, the hotel was so large that it could theoretically have fit the entire Lakeland population in its rooms for a night.

General Collection

Tremont House Hotel, circa 1885 | Photo via Florida Memory

State Archives of FL

The three-story hotel was constructed of wood and featured a high-gabled roof, a common style during the latter half of the 19th century. The building housed a second-story porch, which wrapped the entire length of the floor, and was subjected to a few expansions and modifications over the years. One substantial change was the addition of first-floor arches with support brackets vs. pillars.

Known as one of the finest hotels in South Florida, and certainly the finest in Lakeland at the time, the Tremont housed the very first bathtubs in the city, a sign of its elegance, and was touted as “The Traveling Man’s Home.” One of its biggest renovations and expansions was in 1911 when the hotel was physically moved to an adjacent lot, about 200-ft south on Massachusetts Avenue.

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The Tremont Hotel, circa 1920s | Photo via Lakeland Public Library

In the empty lot, the Terrace Hotel was built and opened on Oct. 12, 1924. Sadly, the Tremont House couldn’t keep up with new hotels in the area like Hotel Thelma, the Terrace, or the New Florida Hotel, which sprouted up in 1926. The Tremont was eventually torn down in 1936 and was replaced with the no longer existent, Ballanger’s Garage, which stood behind Frescos Southern Kitchen & Bar.

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