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
New Delaware Avenue Development Proposals Put Maritime Supply Warehouse In A Corner

New Delaware Avenue Development Proposals Put Maritime Supply Warehouse In A Corner

April 17, 2015  |  News, Vantage

Time bought for the former Edward Corner Marine Merchandize Warehouse in a zoning meeting Wednesday night. Fishtown neighbors shot down developer Michael Samschick's large-scale mixed-use proposals for the three adjoining lots along Delaware Avenue. Contributor Stephen Stofka was there and has a few take-away recommendations for a less sprawling, more conscientious treatment of the blocks > more

The City Of Neighborhoods, For Better Or Worse

The City Of Neighborhoods, For Better Or Worse

April 17, 2015  |  Morning Blend

A look at the decentralized state of affairs in Center City, Live Nation announces plans for reuse of Fishtown factory, and distressed parkers fight South Philly proposal > more

Broad, Market, And The Wholesome City

Broad, Market, And The Wholesome City

April 16, 2015  |  Morning Blend

Reflections on the laying of the cornerstone to City Hall, short film eavesdrops in on Philadelphians in motion, Samschick’s Delaware Avenue projects not too popular with residents, Rebuilding Together Philadelphia celebrates milestone, and community input for West Philly plan > more

In Strawberry Mansion, Making The Case For Adaptive Reuse

In Strawberry Mansion, Making The Case For Adaptive Reuse

April 15, 2015  |  Soapbox

The 100-year old Metropolitan Garage in Strawberry Mansion is as unique as it it is oddly charming. Located right across the street form the entrance of East Fairmount Park, with a great view of the city skyline to boot, Hidden City contributor Oscar Beisart thinks that a bold reuse of the building just might be the kind of creative investment the neighborhood needs. Though, demolition permits are already in place and another opportunity to keep our historic, industrial fabric intact may soon be lost > more

“Air” Installed By The Schuylkill

“Air” Installed By The Schuylkill

April 15, 2015  |  Morning Blend

Famed sculptor’s 1979 piece back on public display, storefront improvement program reportedly strangled by federal regulation, northern concrete City Hall apron to be repoured, and using co-working spaces as a reinvigorator of East Market Street > more

Original Design Of Courtyard Gates To Be Installed At City Hall

Original Design Of Courtyard Gates To Be Installed At City Hall

April 13, 2015  |  Morning Blend

New gates for City Hall were designed in 1869, the mixed blessing of the South Philly refinery, Guinn to design mural for Wissahickon train station, Brandywine Realty moves into Old City, and Squilla promotes valet parking as solution for waterfront clubs > more