Groundbreaking at the hulking Divine Lorraine marks the end of blight at Philly’s towering landmark

Architecture Development East News
Outside the Lorraine. (Henry Melcher / AN)

Exterior of the Divine Lorraine (Henry Melcher / AN)

Groundbreaking on the Divine Lorraine, Philadelphia’s luxury hotel turned graffiti artist playground, begins this afternoon.

Completed in 1894, Willis G. Hale‘s 10 story Lorraine Apartments featured state-of-the-art technology (electric lights), and bourgeois amenities (a kitchen staff that cooked for the tenants, eliminating the need for household servants).  At the beginning of the 20th century, the apartments were converted into a hotel. The Reverend Jealous Divine bought the structure in 1948, and opened the country’s first integrated hotel. Abandoned in 1999, the structure steadily decayed, battered by urban explorers, graffiti artists, and sixteen Philadelphia winters.

Last year, The Architect’s Newspaper explored the property from the ground up with developer Eric Blumenfeld. Blumenfeld plans to turn the $44 million property into a hotel. If the hotel’s capsule collection on Instagram is any indication, the Divine Lorraine should receive an extensive aesthetic makeover from the redevelopment team. Philadelphia firm Wallace Roberts & Todd (WRT) is spearheading the renovation.

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