Listed on the Historic Landmarks Fountain of Indiana as one of the ten most endangered sights in the state, Gary's once proud Union Station now awaits an uncertain fate. Tucked and hidden from the rest of the city by the I-90 toll road, the Beaux Arts style station, designed by M.A. Lang in 1910, sits quietly; it saw its last passenger train in 1950s. Its been used once since, for a scene in the 1995 movie Original Gangstas.
Practical construction, through the use of steel-reinforced poured concrete (revolutionary at the time but very common now), probably explains why the the structure has remained standing, though unused, for almost half a century.
Union Station is on the east side of Broadway, between the toll road and a freight line.
An excellent write up can be found at:
- Adventure Travel
Union Station: The Future?
What does the future hold for Gary's Union Station. Will there be a future to speak of?
The exterior still appears in relatively good condition, for that reason it's a shame to think this 90+ year old edifice would meet the wrecking ball. The interior, as you can see in the picture, is in wretched shape.
Plans have called for the station to be used as a stop on a Detroit - Chicago high speed rail line, a Welcome Center for the Region, a steel museum, a railroad museum, home of the talked about (and controversial) Civil Rights Hall of Fame. Whatever shape it takes, time may be running out.
Update: Spoke with an area historian today (12-11) and he said the city now has plans to "mothball" the station.
- Adventure Travel
The historic wonders of Gary
Long time ago, in a universe far, far away, the City of Gary was known as a vibrant, progressive community. They were the leader in eduction reform under Supt. Lew Wallace. They lead the nation in modern urban design and development. Things have changed since those early days. But within the city are still many treasures. These are best shown at Forbidden Places a web-site of many fine structures that dominate the city. If the past is our future, Gary will be a place to keep watch of.
- Historical Travel
East Side Branch Library: The Future
Located on US 12/20, I drive by this building regularly. I used to think it was ugly; a blocky, squat hunk of granite and limestone. Closer inspection has changed my mind.
As for the future, I do not know. I sincerely hope it will not be leveled to provide more ballpark parking. The detailwork, while coated with a layer of time, neglect and grime, is really neat and overall, the structure appears to be in decent shape. The etching on the front, above the door says it all for me, "Knowledge Is Power." I think this building could make a wonderful home for a museum, something the city needs.
If you catch a Railcats game at the Steel Yard, take a look at the old Library. Go on, it's safe. Let the time, effort and money the people of Gary put into this place of learning impress you as much as it does me.
East Side Branch Library
Initially, Gary's East Side contained planned company housing, much like the West Side. While the West Side was home to the city's WASPy elite, the east became home to many semi- and unskilled workers, many of south and eastern Europeans origin. Owners soon turned their company-built dwellings into tenaments, housing a number of families as well as single-male workers, fresh from the Old Country. US Steel abandon control here and eventually the East Side became a mixed, middle-class neighborhood. My old man grew up here; today there is very little left of the neighborhood. But the neighborhood library remains, empty, squat, defiant and solid.
Standard Liquors Building
I don't know when it was built, sometime in the mid 1920s I imagine, or by whom, but this solid, 8-story building with nice touches on the facade has been empty for some time now. In its day, Standard Liquors was the main distributor to the city's restaurants, bars and liquor stores.
Gleason Park and Golf Course Club House
Another George Washington Maher building in Gary, but instead of a Prairie School style Maher used a Tutor Revival design. Constructed in 1921, there have been some drastic alterations to both the interior and exterior. Most notable is the roof, the green slate was replaced with red and grey asphalt shingles and the main floor windows, which have been replaced by ugly cinder blocks.
Wynant House: The future
In the words of Simon and Garfunkel, "so long Frank Lloyd Wright." Not that there's any plans to tear it down, but the house at 600 Fillmore Street is in terrible shape and preservation work has been stalled for almost two years now. Unoccupied since 1975, I can't imagine this heap of rotted wood standing for too much longer.
It's a shame. Having an example of early pre-fab housing, and one designed by the preeminent architect of the 20th century no less, is something the city of Gary and the entire region could take great pride in. But there are lots of problems.
Many preservationist have said they've never seen any structure in so bad a shape. It's so far gone that renovation means rebuilding the entire house, estimated cost... $300,000. If the house ever was refurbished there's still the problem of location: it's in a dangerously unsafe area so the question must be asked: who would want to live there?
The future of the Wynant House? I see Mother Nature winning this battle; the effects of the elements will rot away the structure and it will collapse into a pile of wood and nails. I'm glad I got to see the house before that happens.
The website below has excellent articles about the house, Frank Lloyd Wright's American Built System and the struggle to preserve the Wynant House.
Another example of the great Frank Lloyd Wright's American Built System of housing, some of the early example of prefabricated housing. Using mass produced parts to produce high-quality, low cost housing for the average American, a house like this sold for around $5000 at the time of its construction in 1916.
The original owner, Wilbur Wynant, was the president of Gary National Life Insurance Company and Gary National Associates. In 1995 local preservationist Christopher Meyers identified this as a Wright design. What surprised me the most upon my visit was not the wretched condition of the house, but how small it is.
Finished in 1956, comparisons between Gilroy Stadium and the new downtown minor league baseball stadium are inevitable. Both were built to stimulate economic growth, both were funded by public money, both went far over-budget and both were completed way past deadline. The question on many Gary residents’ minds now is whether the new ballpark will suffer the same fate as Gilroy Stadium: empty, unsafe and useless.
In January 1955, Gary Mayor Pete Mandich announced a $350,000 bond issue to begin construction of a facility for local sporting and social events. After paying off that bond, another $350,000 would be used to complete the project. In the end, Gary residents were stuck with half-complete stadium at the cost of $1 million. The popular George Chacharis, then city controller and future mayor, blamed “underestimated costs” as leading to higher final costs. Others called it “sloppy management.” City councilman Benjamin Wilson summed the situation up well when he said, “people are going to say it looks like we don’t know what we’re doing and it looks like they’re right.”
Gilroy Stadium: Monument to corruption
When “discussing” the problems in Gary, many secretly blame the arrival and assumption of power of African-Americans. They ignore the years of graft and corruption rampant in Gary throughout its history.
According to a Post-Tribune report, six years after its opening, “architects determined that poor concrete work led to cracking, allowing moisture in and the rusting of steel beams on the bleachers.” That same year, federal investigators found Chacharis guilty of accepting almost $250,000 in kickbacks from various city projects, including Gilroy Stadium. Chacharis resigned as mayor and spent three years in a federal prison.
In 1973 the Gary School System cancelled a contract to play its games at Gilroy. Many schools now had their own facilities, much safer than Gilroy. Most recently it held a February 2001 Ku Klux Klan rally and over the past few years Gilroy Stadium was home to the Gary Golden Bears, a semi-pro US football team. In March 2002, the Gary Parks Department declared the stadium unsafe and closed until renovations.
So what should happen with Gilroy Stadium? I say let this rotting hulk stand as a monument to greed and corruption.
Standard Liquors Building: The Future.
A parking lot. Located across 5th Avenue from the new Railcats baseball stadium, the Standard Liquors Building will probably cease to exist by the end of the summer.
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