|City/Town: • Montgomery
|Location Class: • Commercial
|Built: • 1965 | Abandoned: • ~2011
|Status: • Abandoned
|Photojournalist: • David Bulit
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C. T. Fitzpatrick
Located in Montgomery, The Governor’s House Hotel was built in 1965 as a luxury hotel by Clement Tranum Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick was a real estate developer who was best known for his development of the Governor’s House Hotel and the adjacent Governor’s Square Shopping Center on his family’s farmland. In addition to being a developer, he was the founder of Thermal Components, a partner in the Natural Gas appliance Company and Moody Tire Company, one of the founders of the Guilford Company, and owner of Empire-Rouse Laundry after the passing of his father-in-law, L. D. Rouse. Fitzpatrick also served on the Board of Investors of the Federal Savings & Loan Association and as president of the Montgomery Chamber of Commerce.
Governor’s House Hotel
The Governor’s House Hotel featured 197 rooms, over 19,500 square feet of meeting and convention space, the Rotunda restaurant, the Filibuster Lounge, and an outdoor pool in the shape of the state of Alabama. Planned with all the luxuries of a private country club, they also offered outdoor activities that other hotels in the area didn’t, such as a nine-hole golf course and horseback riding. It played host to many prominent figures such as former Alabama governors George Wallace and Fob James who both held their campaign election parties in the Alabama Room. The cast and crew of the 1990 movie, The Long Walk Home, starring Whoopi Goldberg and Sissy Spacek were also guests at the hotel.
By the 1990s, the area was in steady decline and the Governor’s House Hotel was no longer the luxurious hotel it once was. Amenities such as the horse stables and golf course were long gone. By this time as well, travelers had much better hotel options in downtown Montgomery, specifically the Embassy Suites Hotel which officials for the Governor’s House Hotel stated not only took business away from them but also staff as well. The city also lost conventions to the cities of Birmingham and Mobile because of the lack of good convention facilities in Montgomery.
In 1998, PNL Asset Management decided to revitalize the aging hotel after foreclosing on the hotel’s former owner, Olshan Management Corporation of New Jersey. At a cost of $5.3 million, the renovations included the addition of a fitness center, a business center, and air conditioning units, carpet, and wall vinyl in the meeting rooms. The guest rooms were also upgraded with the addition of coffee makers, hair dryers, irons and ironing boards, and new televisions. The bedspreads, drapes, and wallpaper were also changed in the guest rooms. The restaurant also received a facelift and the name was changed to Bellissimo Italian Restaurant.
Shortly after renovations were completed, the property was put up for auction for an undisclosed reason. The hotel was passed around to various owners and rebranded as an economy-level motel, operating under various brands such as Motel 6 and Quality Inn & Suites. A Super 8 motel also operated behind the old hotel which was shuttered around the same time as the Governor’s House Hotel. Guests complained of mold in the rooms and a lack of safety around the property. When the hotel ultimately closed down in the early-2010s, only one-third of the building was in use.
The property has since become an eyesore with no developers taking an interest in it due to its location. The Department of Revenue is currently in possession of the property due to unpaid property taxes. Although it’s valued at $1 million, the first person to offer a minimum of $166,000 will be able to own the Governor’s House Hotel. City officials have also floated the possibility of demolishing the structures themselves but budgetary constraints have prevented that from happening.
What was once a luxurious hotel is now in ruin with its windows shattered and its once manicured grounds are now overgrown with heaps of trash littering the property. In August 2022, it was announced that the City of Montgomery purchased the Governor’s House Hotel from the State of Alabama for $100. Although city officials are determining what to do with the building, one thing’s for certain—the Governor’s House Hotel will be demolished in the future.
There is no fence keeping people out so many homeless people have been known to squat within the buildings. In March 2017, firefighters put out a small fire that started in one of the rooms. Months later, two rooms on the second floor were damaged by another fire. In April 2019, firefighters responded to yet another fire that caused heavy damage to the interior of the building. On December 19, 2020, William “Mo” Emore III, a homeless man staying at the Governor’s House Hotel, was shot in the chest a mile down the road along Troy Highway. He was hospitalized and died ten days later. Shortly after, Michael Lewis was charged with his murder and arrested.