Friday, August 14, 2009

Snapshots in Time: Clermont Then and Now

(click to enlarge)

I found this postcard at Renningers Antique Market in Mt. Dora recently and was drawn to it because of its size (PICTURAMA Queen Size card) and the subject matter. It shows a fish eye view from the middle of US 27 looking towards the Crest Restuarant & Cocktail Lounge and the Clermont Motor Lodge in Clermont Florida. The location is a place I keep returning to again and again to document what happens to Pre-Disney old Florida in the 21st century.

The postcard, probably from the 1960s, has red arrows pointing out items of interest like the Florida Citrus Tower, the junction of SR 50 and US 27 and the aforementioned properties. The Crest Restaurant, a gorgeous mid-century building with rooftop and roadside neon signs, looks brand new. Next door, the Clermont Motor Lodge looks very picturesque and quiet. This part of Central Florida was once in the center of the citrus industry and US 27 was one of the major arteries bring folks to Florida from the north.

The back of the postcard reads:
Clermont Motor Lodge
Located on U.S. 27 and 50. One mile south of the Citrus Tower, in the heart of the beautiful citrus scenic ridge section overlooking hills and lakes. Good boating and fishing. Forty units at moderate rates. Air conditioned- Electric Heat. Free TV in all units. Swimming pool for pleasure year' round. Quiet and restful.

Crest Restaurant & Cocktail Lounge
Central Florida's finest buffet and a la carte service featuring steaks, sea foods and lobster. The Crest is renowned as the "Home of the Giant Martini." For an elegant but comfortable atmosphere, Crest is Best.

When I happened upon the location, some years ago in my pre-digital era, the Crest had become Crown Restaurant. The sign, originally red and black had been painted blue and yellow. The Clermont Motor Lodge was in operation, barely.

Earlier this year I returned and the Crown sign had been repainted flat black. It still lights up and they've added martinis to the left and the right (it now says Lounge instead of Restaurant.)

Sadly the Clermont Motor Lodge property is empty and for sale. No trespassing signs are stenciled everywhere and all the windows are boarded up. Once sporting two monumental roadsigns, the only signage viewable from the road today are the "For Sale" signs. It is my guess that the only thing that has kept this property from being demoed is the current economic climate.


  1. Nice post Rick. Always enjoy the "then & now" look at the places that matter to all of us roadside fans.

    Thanks again for all the great things you share!

  2. That was my grandmothers motel her and my grandfather built it in 1956,in 1999 a man from jordan came to stay he was a med student Kadry Allaboun, he took over $700,000 from my grandmother and she died broke and they tore down the motel in 2013, he lives in morganNC as a Nuerologist, and denies wrong doing