This is one of those times I have totally mixed feelings about a restored building.. On one hand, I am incredibly happy that this historic landmark has been taken and restored to it’s former glory. On the other, I’m super jealous that I didn’t have an opportunity to explore it in it’s abandoned state and a little petty since it’s now privately owned, I wasn’t allowed to wander the halls to photograph as I pleased, or soak up it’s raw history at my leisure. I’ll get over it. I did manage to get a cell phone pic of the lobby, before the front desk attendant squashed my urbanex dreams.
In case you were curious, here’s what it looked like before renovations(PHOTO CRED: PHILLY.CURBED)
The hotel has a pretty wild history that includes the civil rights movement and a fanatic religious cult leader named Reverend Major Jealous Divine.
When he purchased the high-rise building in 1948 he converted the “Lorraine Apartments” into one of the first racially integrated hotels in the city(which is totally awesome!). His hotel offered jobs, affordable food and housing to those who followed the teachings of his International Peace Mission..the name doesn’t SOUND far out at all, but if you take some time to Google Father Divine, you might start raising your eyebrows a bit. It was after his death in 1965, a former follower, Jim Jones attempted to take over the movement-unsuccessfully so. He eventually started his own cult in 1971 that lead a 600 person mass suicide in Guyana (source: untappedcities.com).
Today the hotel has kind of a pop culture appeal, you can purchase merchandise such as towels with the “Divine Lorraine” printed on them among other articles of clothing online, and of course as of 2017 the apartments underwent a huge redevelopment and can now be rented out. The building now houses a restaurant and cafe. I took these photos of the exterior and hope to return to visit the restaurant in the near future. As always, happy wandering!