Residents of the Clermont community gathered Saturday at the Chattahoochee Center to celebrate the city’s 100th birthday.
Clermont became a chartered city a century ago today on Aug. 11, 1913. The city was formerly called Dip before changing to Clermont.
“Clermont is really older than the 100 years,” said Clermont Mayor James Nix. “It was a vibrant community even before that time. We had schools that started right here in this area.”
Nix said he and others always put emphasis on educating the younger generation and new people who have recently moved to the area about the history of Clermont, and how education was a big part of the city’s past.
“The whole community here, I think, is a tight-knit community,” he said. “We still have a lot of people here who have been born and raised in this area. But there’s also a lot of new people that have moved into the area.
“So we have a big influx of people that weren’t part of this community years ago. I think when they get in here, they begin to feel part of it (the community) and get right into it.”
Clermont also held its first farmers market on Saturday before the centennial festivities began. The market featured meats, vegetable, coffee and other amenities prepared by local residents and farmers.
Kristi Crumpton, co-market manager and resident of Clermont for three years, said Saturday was the perfect time to start new tradition with a farmers market and birthday celebration.
“I love Clermont because it’s a small town with big town feelings,” she said. “It’s a great little town. There are great people here ... 100 years is a big deal. The whole summer, I’ve been doing research on the history of Clermont. We really owe a lot to the people who were here before us.
“The dedication to education that our first citizens had in Clermont was amazing. Once they (the city) had 25 or 30 families, they said ‘the most important thing is the education of our children.’ Over farming and everything else. Those citizens started this community with that, with Concord Baptist Church and the school, that’s the foundation of Clermont.”
Clermont High School was located on the same grounds as the Clermont Chattahoochee Center, which used to be the Clermont Gym.
“I want people to recognize the history around them,” Crumpton said. “There was a lot going on here. People who have just moved to the area don’t realize that at one point Clermont was a great-sized town. We had banks and business, and it was all because of the railroad. But you can’t see it now.
“There’s a lot to the history here before us, and a lot to be proud of. I think to just embrace that (the history) and preserve it because if we don’t do it, then our kids are not going to know anything about the history. ... My sense of pride for Clermont has increased just from learning about the history and everything that used to be here. I’m proud to say I’m from Clermont.”
For Barbara Glover, 84, Clermont has been the custodian of her life. She has lived in the same house since she was born, and was married there as well.
“Clermont has changed quite a bit,” she said. “When I was a child, we did everything the old way. We walked to school. I think they did have buses, but they didn’t pick us up. We had a railroad through town.”
She said her dad was the last depot agent in Clermont before the railroad moved elsewhere.
“Clermont’s always home. I don’t think I could live anywhere else,” she said.
Benny Armour, a lifelong resident, started at Clermont High School when he was 6 years old, and graduated in 1957.
“The centennial celebration is real important,” he said. “Clermont has really changed in the last 50 years. It has come a long ways.”
Armour also said that his grandchildren are interested in the history of the town, and it makes him happy to see them take time to talk with him about that.
Robin Collinson and her mother, Phyllis Henson, own the old Clermont Hotel, now known as the Clermont Venue. She said it is the people and not the old buildings that make Clermont what it is today.
“It’s good to know what happened in the past,” Collinson said.