According to an article in today’s Inquirer, the Divine Lorraine mystery has been solved. For those of you that wagered on Eric Blumenfeld of EB Realty, you’ve got quite a windfall on your hands.
Blumenfeld’s plan, to be more specific, doesn’t necessarily involve the blighted architectural gem so much as it involves the four acre lot that sits right behind it. Mr. Blumenfeld’s dream is to construct new school buildings on the site, relocating four existing high schools that are in the general area. These would include Masterman, currently located at 1699 Spring Garden St., Franklin Learning Center, currently located at 616 N. 15th St., Benjamin Franklin High, currently located at 550 N Broad St., and Parkway Center City High, currently located at 540 N. 13th St.
Each school would receive a separate new building, but would share cafeteria space, a gymnasium, a science lab, and outdoor space. Geographically, this new setup would not represent much of a change, as all of the schools are located just a few blocks away from this address. Integrating the personalities of the schools and managing school rivalries, however, could prove more challenging. And working in cooperation with a School District that seems to have as much trouble balancing its budget as it does educating the city’s children seems like a task that will be wrought with difficulties. Blumenfeld, optimistically perhaps, believes that the success of this project will ultimately come down to the support of the principals of the schools involved.
As for the Divine Lorraine herself, a local artist has a plan for the building: transforming it into the Philadelphia Interactive Museum of Contemporary Art. Caryn Kunkle also sees potential for college student housing and an urban garden at the site of the future museum. Kunkle is working with Mr. Blumenfeld to try to merge their concepts in a holistic way.
In theory, this grand reimagining of the Divine Lorraine is a thing of beauty. Who wouldn’t want to see new, state-of-the-art school buildings, next door to a museum in a restored building? But is it practical? Is it feasible? It it possible?
Is it the best and highest use?
What do you think, good readers?