Rich Wilhelm

Sunday Morning, North Broad Street, Part 2: The Divine Lorraine Hotel

In Divine Lorraine Hotel, Uncategorized on September 4, 2016 at 10:28 pm
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The sign atop the Divine Lorraine Hotel on North Broad Street in Philadelphia. The only other sign in the city that is arguably as iconic would be the PSFS sign.

Part 2 of 2 of Rich and Chris’ Sunday morning exploration of North Broad Street.

After Chris and I had taken our last photos at the Beury Building, I thought it might be fun to visit the Divine Lorraine Hotel as well. There is a simple way to get from the Beury to the Lorraine: turn left on Broad Street and drive until you see the can’t-miss-it hotel looming above you on your left.

I chose a less-simple way, for one good reason: if I had straight down Broad Street, I would have passed Johnson Hall at Temple University. This is where my older son Jimmy is currently residing and I am quite frankly not certain he would have appreciated a drop-in visit from Chris and me at 8:30 this morning, as he was probably sleeping off the effects of the first day of the Made in America festival, in preparation for today’s second installment of that Jay-Z curated mega-jam concert on the Ben Franklin Parkway.

Therefore, to avoid the temptation to wake Jimmy up–and thus, annoy him–I drove north on Broad to the Roosevelt Boulevard. Turned left and drove to the Ridge Avenue exit. Left onto Ridge, past Laurel Hill Cemetery–where Beury Building namesake Charles Beury is buried–and continuing on Ridge until it intersects with Broad Street, at the exact spot where one can find the Divine Lorraine Hotel.

But that’s not the only reason took the lesser-direct route. There is also this: as someone who has lived around Philadelphia my entire life, I know certain places. In this case, the Beury Building. Temple University. Laurel Hill Cemetery. Divine Lorraine Hotel. But, aside from looking at a map, I don’t really know how these places are spatially related to each other until I start driving around, driving from one place to another along routes I may not have taken before. That kind of connecting the dots is fascinating to me and it reminds me of how fascinated I am by the neural connections each of us can sometimes make from one seemingly unrelated idea to another.

But I digress.

I easily found a spot to park behind the Lorraine and soon Chris and I were busy taking photos of it. Perhaps at this point, some history is in order.

The building that has become known as the Divine Lorraine Hotel was completed in 1894. The ornate Victorian style of the building was actually going out of style at just the time the building was completed. In 1948, the building was purchased by Father Divine, the well-known leader of the Universal Peace Mission Movement. Father Divine soon made the Divine Lorraine the first higher-class hotel in the United States to be fully racially integrated, though guests had to agree to special rules dictated by the tenets of Father Divine’s religion.

Since the movement sold the building about 20 years ago, it has gone through a period of serious deterioration, but is currently being renovated, with a completion date of March 2017. This explains why much of the building is currently covered in scaffolding. With this renovation, the Divine Lorraine appears to have a stronger lease on continued life than the Beury Building does, but only time will tell how either building will fare in the coming decades.

For now though, here is what the Divine Lorraine looked like today, September 4, 2016.

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View from behind. Not only I had never walked around the Divine Lorraine area before, I had really seen the building from this angle, even in a car.

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You GO GiRL!

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UR Divine.

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Just like the Beury Building, Chris had been wanting to see the Divine Lorraine up close for a while.

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Detail, Divine Lorraine Hotel.

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Detail, Divine Lorraine Hotel

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Father Divine established the Divine Lorraine as the first major racially integrated hotel in the United States.

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Chris has been visiting Pennsylvania Historic Markers, such as this one for Father Divine.

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I wasn’t as serious as I appear to be here.

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Current state of front door, Divine Lorraine Hotel.

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South side of the Divine Lorraine Hotel. Most of the rest of the building is currently under scaffolding.

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Finally, here is Chris taking photos of the Divine Lorraine Hotel with his tablet. Soon after I took this photo, we headed back out Ridge Avenue, with a quick stop at Laurel Hill Cemetery, before heading back home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  1. […] Once Chris and I got the photos we wanted, we hit the road to visit another notable North Broad Street landmark. […]

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Patrick F. O'Donnell

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