Divine Lorraine

It's always fun to see your name show up on signs in unexpected places.  In Lomita where my sister used to live there was a beauty salon called "Linda's".  (It was sold a renamed about a year ago).  Across the street is "Louis'", a flower shop.  (Louis is my nephew's name).  Drving through the front range foothills are fire signs which give the current fire danger.  I like it when the sign says "Low".  That's my brother Lawrence's nickname.  But I think one of the best name signs I've ever come across is this one:


Lorraine is my sister-in-law's mother's name.  I chuckled to myself when I saw this sign.  I was in Philadelphia on North Broad, alone, driving a rental car when I saw it.  The neighborhood was, let's say, not exactly the one where you want to hop out of a rental car with your camera taking pictures!  I didn't see any parking places anyway, so I shot this from the driver's seat through the windshield while in motion. 

The building was abandoned and looked to have been that way for a very long time.  Garbage littered the sidewalk, and windows were shattered.  There were bums who had taken up temporary residence in the sheltered areas beside the front steps/stoop.  The old girl looked very much like her future was with a wrecking ball.

I thought Lorraine would like the picture, so I sent it to her.  And she did.  She wondered to me in an e-mail about the history of the building stating "I hope it wasn't a brothel!".  So, I decided to see what, if anything, I could find out about this old building with the lofty name.

Built in 1894 during Philly's Gilded Age, the Lorraine was originally designed as a luxury apartment house for nouveau-riche industrialists. She was built in grandeur: 10 stories of Pompeian brick and ornate marble; oversized, lavish suites with tile-lined fireplaces; rooms even had electric lighting and telephone service. In 1948, it became home to the Universal Peace Mission Movement of Father Divine, the controversial religious leader who claimed to be Christ incarnate. Under the Peace Mission's watch, the Lorraine was re-christened the Divine Lorraine and became Philadelphia's first major integrated (meaning they allowed blacks) hotel. Rates were cheap and the hotel was often full with clientele ranging from businessmen and holy rollers to traveling students and reformed bums. Today, it sits uninhabited. 

From what I find on the internet, the hotel and the surrounding few acres of land were bought five or six years ago by developers with plans to renovate it into a luxury living and retail space.  That never happened.  Not sure why.  

While this particular area of town is somewhat unsavory now, it looks to be one of those areas that is poised to be overtaken by developers and turned swanky.  Wish I had the money to buy the Lorraine.  The pictures I've seen of the inside sing to me! 



About Lou (Linda)

Just a girl from Colorado trying to live life to God's glory with a certain amount of gusto! View all posts by Lou (Linda)

3 responses to “Divine Lorraine

  • Brandy-Lynn

    Interesting! Lorraine will love that you did research.
    Brandy-Lynn Christen

  • Cousin Laurel

    and, Linda, did you know that Great Aunt Enyd’s middle name is “Enyd Lorraine”. Interesting!

  • Lou (Linda)

    Brandy, too bad Lorraine doesn’t have internet, just e-mail! I sent her the info though. And, Laurel, no, I sure didn’t know that Enyd’s middle name is Lorraine! Thanks for the history!

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