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African American History of Philadelphia Heritage Trail
Item 14 of 20
Constructed as a luxury apartment building in 1892, this structure became home to the Lorraine Hotel in 1900. Father Divine, the leader of the Universal Peace Movement, acquired the building in 1948 and operated the Divine Hotel which welcomed all regardless of race and religion so long as they agreed to follow the rules for guests. With its primarily African American congregation that followed Father Divine, an African American who developed a large national following and even larger real estate portfolio. The Divine Hotel placed men and women in different sides of the hotel and barred alcohol, smoking, and immodest dress and behavior. Divine's wealth attracted numerous investigations and reports of impropriety and mishandling funds meant for the church. Today, the building is once again home to luxury apartments

  • The Victorian Style of the Divine Lorraine Hotel
  • The sign above the Divine Lorraine Hotel
  • The community room of worship at the Divine Lorraine Hotel

Willis G. Hale was the architect who saw to the construction of the Lorraine Apartments in 1892. The ten-story Late Victorian structure was one of the highest buildings in the city at the time of its completion and housed many of the cities wealthiest and most influential citizens.  

In 1900, the Metropolitan Hotel Company purchased the property and the site became the location of the Lorraine Hotel. The Hotel would remain under the same ownership and beliefs until Father Divine purchased the property in 1948 for $485,000. Divine combined the Victorian style Hotel with his Universal Peace Movement Mission to create a hotel that welcomed all customers regardless of race or religion. The hotel required guests to abide by a code of conduct, however, including bans on smoking, drinking and a requirement that they dress in modest manner. In addition, men would reside on one side of the hotel, and women would be on the opposite side. 

The hotel continued to operate after Father Divine passed away but closed in 2000. After years of neglect and vandalism, the building was renovated and reopened as an apartment building. The Lorraine had come full circle, it had started as an apartment building and would now return to the Philadelphia landscape as an apartment building. The Divine Lorraine Hotel was recognized as a historical landmark in 1994 by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.  The hotel would be added to the National Register of Historical Places officially in 2002, two years after it was vacated.

The Devine Lorain building website, accessed December 9, 2017.

 Newlin, Heather.  The Philly History Blog.  March 26, 2007.  Accessed December 9, 2017.

Romero, Melissa. Exclusive: First Look into the Divine Lorraine Renovations. Curbed Philadelphia. May 05, 2016. Accessed December 10, 2017.