With news that our blighted yet beloved Divine Lorraine is slated to house 126 apartments in a new project from Eric Blumenfeld commencing as early as May, we thought it appropriate to take a last look at the Divine Ms. L, pre-blight. The photos were all captured by writer and artist Natalie Hope McDonald, who was granted access before the late 19th-century building was gutted. She says:
At the time I was granted access, there were still remnants of the tenants who had made their homes in this foreboding Victorian beauty at the corner of Broad and Fairmount Avenue. Ornate mirrors, scattered books, keys, coffee cups, mattresses and a grand piano had all been left behind...There was a solemnity to the place. And because there's always time for a historical interlude:
The building was designed as the "Lorraine Apartments" by "controversial architect Willis G. Hale in his characteristically theatrical high-Victorian style. Construction began in 1892 and took two years to finish." In 1900, it was sold, and converted into a hotel. It continued to attract a wealthy clientele until its sale in 1948 to Father Divine, who gave the building the moniker we all now know it by. Father Divine passed away 20 years later, and his congregation had eventually dwindled down to almost nothing by 2000 (his teachings forbade, among other things, sex), when the Divine Lorraine was sold. It then began its downward spiral: closed, then sold again, while floors, paneling, and other architectural items were removed by salvage companies, until the property was transferred to Eric Blumenfeld in October 2012 at the city's monthly Sheriff's sale. He was the sole bidder. Here's to your future, Ms. Divine. Here's to you.
· The Divine Lorraine to house 126 apartments [Curbed Philly]
· This drone video of the Divine Lorraine is everything [Curbed Philly]
· The Divine Lorraine [The Kingston Lounge]
· Riverlink Winterfest will feature relics from the Divine Lorraine [Curbed Philly]