If it's an inductor, you should measure a very low resistance using an ohm meter. I doubt it's a resistor. 1.5 ohm doesn't sound like a value I've ever seen on a PCB.
At first guess, though, it looks like an inductor to me. I believe 1R5 would mean 1.5 uH. That is a reasonable value to find on a board. Of course, so is 1.5 uF, but it doesn't really look like your average SMT cap to me.\\
To respond to the edit, yes L is the symbol for inductors.
And to answer your original questions, yes you can replace it with a non-SMT version if you can fit it on the pads, and no, there is no polarity to that part.
I think that's a 7R5 on the part. The 1 would be a very odd font if it were. I think some of the surface got scratched up.