On Friday, July 31st Lapstone & Hammer and Najeeb Sheikh, two Philadelphia brands, join forces to pay tribute to a Philadelphia landmark with The Divine Lorraine Hotel Collection. Incorporating apparel, footwear, and accessories from Converse, Levi’s, The Decades, Blind Barber, Crep Protect, and U-Bee-Well; this collection will honor the legacy of the Divine Lorraine Hotel, which has travelled a culturally significant path from a luxury apartment building, to one of the first racially integrated hotels in the country, to its current state as the instantly recognizable yet somewhat mysterious, broken down building on Broad and Fairmount.
Drawing inspiration from the Divine Lorraine’s history, the capsule revolves around the theme of items found in a luxury hotel. There are towels, robes, and grooming kits that would typically to be found in a suite; tees, crews, hats, and denim jackets that would be sold in the gift shop; and even a sneaker cleaning kit, which functions as a modern take on the shoeshine station. The collection also includes luxury models of Converse’s Chuck Taylor All Star '70 sneakers, in lieu of hotel slippers. All items carry custom Divine Lorraine Hotel branding designed by Najeeb Sheikh.
In addition to the collection itself, Lapstone & Hammer will be hosting a showing of artwork inspired by and related to the Divine Lorraine Hotel. Among the featured pieces will be a musical composition by local writer Leah Kauffman, a glass piece by world renowned glass blower Slinger, a paper sculpture of the iconic Divine Lorraine Hotel sign by Drew Leshko, a hand painted sign from Darrin Rowland of Rowland Signs, photographs from Eric Ashleigh, Josh Gittleman, and Justin Wolfe, as well as contributions from other local artists.
The event kicks off at 7 pm on Friday, July 31st at Lapstone & Hammer, 1106 Chestnut St. in Philadelphia.
The Divine Lorraine Hotel was built in 1893 by Willis G. Hale as one of the first luxury high-rise apartment buildings in Philadelphia. Then called the Lorraine Apartments, it was controversial for its ornate Victorian design, which fell out of fashion almost as soon as the building was completed.
It was converted into a hotel in 1900 by the Metropolitan Hotel Company, who operated the property until 1948 when it was to sold Father Divine and the Universal Peace Mission Movement. Seeking to create Christian utopias called “Heavens”, Divine rechristened the building the Divine Lorraine Hotel. He opened the hotel to all races, genders, and classes who were willing to adhere to his group’s rules, which included no smoking, no drinking, and a pledge of celibacy, even among married couples. This made the Divine Lorraine the first fully integrated hotel of its kind in Philadelphia, and one of the first in the entire country, a fact for which it attained national historical landmark status.
After running the hotel for over fifty years, the Universal Peace Mission Movement shut the doors for good in 1999. Since that time it has stood unoccupied and slowly decomposing, keeping watch over the north end of Broad Street. It stands now as a living embodiment of the neighborhood it towers over: a decrepit and decaying relic whose past glory is nearly all but forgotten, waiting for someone with enough love and determination to restore it not just to relevance, but to greatness.