When you think of hotels in downtown Lakeland, what comes to mind? Maybe the Terrace Hotel, but what about its predecessor — the Tremont House Hotel?
Abraham Munn constructed the Tremont House Hotel in 1885, the same year Lakeland was founded, on the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Main Street. Today, you’ll find the Terrace Hotel in the same spot.
Designed to host transient guests passing through Lakeland via its bustling railroad depot, the Tremont House was large enough to host the entire Lakeland population for a night.
The three-story wooden hotel featured a high-gabled roof, a common style during the latter half of the 19th century. On the second story, guests socialized on a wrap-around porch. Throughout the years, the building underwent many expansions and modifications, including the addition of first-floor arches with support brackets.
Speaking of things guests could enjoy: Lakeland’s first bathtubs were housed in the hotel. The Tremont House was known as one of South Florida’s finest, colloquially touted as “The Traveling Man’s Home.”
In 1911, the hotel was relocated to an adjacent lot, roughly 200-ft south on Massachusetts Avenue. This made way for a Lakeland staple — the Terrace Hotel — to take its place on October 12, 1924.
Unfortunately for the Tremont House, the emergence of the Terrace Hotel and other newcomers like Hotel Thelma and the New Florida Hotel proved fatal. Tremont House was eventually torn down in 1936 and was replaced by Ballanger’s Garage, which stood behind Frescos Southern Kitchen & Bar and has since closed.
While the Tremont House may be no longer, we still like to ruminate on its history. Who walked through its doors and used those infamous bathtubs? What social clubs gathered on its wrap-around porch? If you have any tales of yore, send them our way.