When the shabby Clermont Hotel was shut down by the health department in 2009 and put up for sale the following year, it meant the demise of yet another local landmark. But in the final six months of the hotel’s operation, former Atlanta Journal-Constitution photographers Allen Sullivan and Elissa Benzie were there, gathering film footage of longtime residents and workers as well as those struggling to keep the doors open. (Investors purchased the building in 2012 and are redeveloping it into a boutique hotel.) Two years later Sullivan partnered with Heather Hutson, an Atlanta native and documentarian, to create a movie out of the footage, Hotel Clermont, about life inside the hotel that was a refuge for the city’s down and out.
Finally completed thanks in part to funds from a 2015 Kickstarter campaign, the documentary makes its Atlanta premiere this month at the 40th annual Atlanta Film Festival (April 1 through 10; Hotel Clermont plays April 5). “For most Atlantans, even those who may have stopped downstairs at the Lounge, the hotel was a mystery,” says Hutson. “I’m proud to have helped archive this piece of Atlanta history, a time and place that is no more.”
This article originally appeared in our April 2016 issue under the headline “Checking in.”