Mr. Mayor, Seal This Building

 

“Someone is trying to set this joint on fire.” Photo: Jeff Weisberg

There was a small fire at the former Divine Lorrraine Hotel last night and we can’t say we’re surprised–people have been entering the building with ease for the last two to three months, maybe more.

The city told us a month ago that they are monitoring the buildings on a daily basis, but this seems unlikely. There is a big hole in the fence and not one but two ladders up to an open window in the old laundry building, through which the main building can be accessed. As if these indications weren’t obvious enough, someone painted the hand of a monster with pink fingernails reaching down from the roof of the laundry building that’s awfully hard to miss.

Now it’s true that keeping the Divine Lorraine sealed shouldn’t be the City’s responsibility, since the building is still owned by local developer Michael Treacy and investors from Michigan and the Netherlands. But given the owners’ seeming disinterest in keeping people out, the City needs to step in, as it did last year when filled in the lower windows with concrete blocks.

The Divine Lorraine has become a powerful symbol of beauty , decay, and possible rebirth in Philadelphia. Many people care about its fate, and there is the chance that beyond someone starting a fire to keep warm (and it was unseasonably warm yesterday) that someone may be trying to burn it down on purpose.

The Nutter administration has properly called attention to the importance of rehabilitating this building, which is both a historic landmark, and a critical part of revitalizing North Broad Street. But before anything else, they must secure the building, which is truly an everyday job, even with the ground-floor windows sealed with concrete block. The devil is in the details, and if the city isn’t more diligent, the Divine Lorraine could burn again–with far more catastrophic consequences.

Peter Woodall is the co-editor of Hidden City Daily. He is a graduate of the UC Berkeley School of Journalism, and a former newspaper reporter with the Biloxi Sun Herald and the Sacramento Bee. He worked as a producer for Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane and wrote a column about neighborhood bars for PhiladelphiaWeekly.com.



4 Comments


  1. I couldn’t agree more that this building is teetering between a smoldering pile of rubble and a beautiful restoration project. The Mayor explicitly included the DL into the 2nd term priority projects, but it may never get to that if vandals have a chance to destroy it. The company that owned (still owns it) supposedly had a paid guard that was on site, and that seemed to keep the people out. Not sure if that is still Lorraine Hotel LP. The city should immediately hold the property owners responsible for this blight and, at a minimum, keep it secured for the time being.

  2. Great investigative work! I couldn’t imagine there would ever be a HOLE IN THE FENCE of an abandoned building!!

    • Thanks for calling attention to this. Here’s to hoping something great comes out of the DL.

      To the poster – if you don’t like it, no need to comment. Just move on…

Trackbacks

  1. Neighbors rally to fight crime in Strawberry Mansion, River Wards | Seal the Divine Lorraine | OCF and Point Breeze | SEPTA cops strike | fund the Free Library
  2. Philadelphia one of only two major U.S. cities with Chief Innovation Officer [LINKS] — Technically Philly
  3. Repair Or Demolition Notice At Divine Lorraine | Hidden City Philadelphia
  4. The Divine Lorraine - Page 25
  5. Left Behind: Demolition or Restoration for North Broad’s Divine Lorraine? | Generocity
Recent Posts
Coworking Firm Announces Two New Philly Locations

Coworking Firm Announces Two New Philly Locations

September 2, 2014  |  Morning Blend

40K more square-feet of office space by year’s end, ZBA says no to another story for off-campus housing, Sixers going 3D, department store to reopen in the Northeast, and the demolition that nearly wasn’t > more

What Lies Beyond The Blue Horizon? The Fabled Venue's Future In Doubt

What Lies Beyond The Blue Horizon? The Fabled Venue’s Future In Doubt

September 2, 2014  |  Developing Challenges, News

The clock is ticking to save the Blue Horizon. Michael Buozis walks us through the details of how one of the greatest venues in boxing history ended up on a hotel developer's chopping block > more

The Physical & Political Importance Of Goldtex

The Physical & Political Importance Of Goldtex

August 29, 2014  |  Morning Blend

Loft District conversion project finally complete, Manayunk parish to preserve historic church, Temple professor talks ’64 riot, major mixed-use for NoLibs, and previewing Greenfest Philly 2014 > more

Ruminating On Lost Columbia Avenue

Ruminating On Lost Columbia Avenue

August 29, 2014  |  Soapbox

In this third installment in our series, Ethan Wallace examines the long term effects the Columbia Avenue riot has had on this weary section of North Philadelphia. Dubbed an "extinction event", Wallace sifts through the ruins of the once vibrant neighborhood while considering the encroaching development of Temple University's campus and the social unrest happening in Ferguson, Missouri > more

'Scared Half To Death,' Reporter Says

‘Scared Half To Death,’ Reporter Says

August 28, 2014  |  Vantage

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Columbia Avenue riot. For the second installment of our series, we have a first person account by Philadelphia Evening Bulletin reporter William Naulty, who was sent in to cover the mayhem on the night of August 28, 1964 > more

Roxborough Sawmill Preserves An Old Industrial Aesthetic

Roxborough Sawmill Preserves An Old Industrial Aesthetic

August 28, 2014  |  Morning Blend

One man's mission to preserve the physical history of industrial Philadelphia, groundbreaking for Rodin Square, street mural requested for Triangles Plaza, the genesis of JFK and 30th Street Station, and this weekend's Made in America Fest > more