After Years Of Decay, Philadelphia's First Racially Integrated Hotel Rebuilds
The Divine Lorraine Hotel is one of Philadelphia’s most prominent examples of blight.
The late Victorian complex was built in 1894 as a stylish set of apartments. When it changed hands 54 years later, it became the first racially integrated hotel in the city and a symbol of pride and luxury.
For more than a decade, the building was abandoned, trashed and covered in graffiti. Eric Blumenfeld, a Philadelphia-based developer, decided to change that. He bought the building in 2012 and since last year, with $44 million of public and private investment, he has led the effort to bring the historic building back to life.
Here & Now‘s Robin Young spoke with Blumenfeld about the praise and concerns for the project, and took a tour through the old hotel.
“You know, there’s such a mystique,” Blumenfeld said of the building. “I’ve been doing this my whole career and I’ve never seen anything like the Divine Lorraine… This building was teetering on demolition for about a decade. And to me it was kind of representative of what this city is going to do — we were at a crossroad, and if we could not salvage such a beautiful piece of history and architecture, it made a poor statement on the future of Philadelphia.”
Hear more of Here & Now‘s coverage from the Democratic National Convention.
Follow the Here & Now election road trip on Tumblr.
Eric Blumenfeld, developer and owner of the Divine Lorraine Hotel. He is also president of EB Realty Management Corp.
Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.