In conjunction with the upcoming show of work from the Relic Project I would like to share some history about the buildings featured in the exhibition. The second of this series is the Divine Lorraine Hotel. Built by the renowned architect Willis G. Hale between 1892 and 1894, the Divine Lorraine was home to many wealthy Philadelphia residents in this up and coming section on North Broad Street. The building boasted modern amenities such as electricity, provided a house staff to eliminate the need for personal servants and utilized a central kitchen to provide food service through out the facility. The Lorraine was a feat of modern design, one of the first hi-rise complexes in Philadelphia at 10 stories high. Advancements in structural materials, and the invention of the elevator made this building a first of its kind in Philadelphia. Hale would build several other Victorian styled buildings in the Philadelphia area which unfortunately after the great depression were considered dated compared to the modern sky scrapers and ultimately many were demolished. In 1948 the Lorraine would make history again when it was sold to Father Divine also known by the name of George Baker or Rev. Major Jealous Divine, leader of the Universal Peace Mission Movement. Baker’s hotel would become the first fully racially integrated hotel in the United States and was open to men and women of all faith and races as long as they lived by the rules of the movement which continued until its closure in 1999. Since then the building has changed hands several times and was gutted for salvage but never rehabbed by developer Lorraine Hotel LP. The building took the spotlight again in the past few weeks when renowned North Broad St. focused developer Eric Blumenfeld purchased the building at auction. He has announced plans to restore the building, creating 126 apartments with restaurants on the first floor, which was kept intact during the 2006-7 interior demolition.
The exhibition featuring work from the Relic Portfolio will be on view at the Dr. Ross Beitzel Art Gallery,Gloucester County College. The exhibition opens Friday, October 26, 2012 with a reception from 6:30 – 8:30 and the show runs through November 28, 2012. Gallery hours are Mon.–Fri., 8:00 am–10:00 pm and Saturday, 8:00 am–3:00 pm. For more information contact Eoin Kinnarney, Gallery Director, 856-415-2122.