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Archive for June, 2013

Abandoned: St. Mary’s Mercy Hospital

no-timeIn the final installment of the Gary series, we take a look at the skeleton of a healthcare organization founded over one hundred years ago.

Originally established in 1908, St. Mary’s Mercy Hospital would see multiple additions and renovations over the years while it expanded to accommodate the city’s growing number of residents. But when the fortunes of Gary turned and the citizens fled, the hospital became economically superfluous; the reduced population base could not financially support operations.

The debt-ridden facility endured a slow and painful contraction before finally closing in 1995. Several attempts were made to reuse the building–including the moving of the city’s police department into the newest wing–but half of the complex was never re-appropriated and left vacant.  Today, the remaining structures have deteriorated and are likely beyond repair.

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The Horace Mann School

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The Horace Mann School of Gary, Indiana is on the short list of American high schools that have graduated more than 75 classes of students. A creation of innovative educator William Wirt, the unique school took seven years to build and was finished in 1928. The campus set a new standard for the area’s public schools by featuring landscaped rolling hills, multiple gyms and pools, and even a man-made pond.

Horace Mann’s fortunes would ebb and flow with those of Gary; when the city’s population declined so did enrollment at the school. In 2004 the school board voted to shutter the building, and nine years later the ailing building still stands vacant and crumbling. Is the school’s rich history enough to secure its future?

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The Ambassador Apartments of Gary, Indiana

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There certainly isn’t a dearth of classic early twentieth century architecture around Gary, Indiana. Another fine example is that of the Ambassador Apartments at 574 Monroe Street. Finished in 1928, the luxurious building featured views and amenities no other place in town could match. Initially it would cater to Gary’s high society, but decades of economic decline and neglected maintenance would take its toll on the building.

The Ambassador Apartments would serve Gary for nearly six decades before it succumbed to economic and structural failures. Today it still stands, abandoned for over 25 years and crumbling beyond repair. Read more…

The Gary-Alerding Settlement House

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When Gary, Indiana was founded by U.S. Steel in 1906, the steelworker was often not American. However the history of immigrants in Gary is often overlooked by the frequent black–white dichotomy in the narrative of the city’s more recent history.

Perhaps not as well known is the history of Gary’s foreign workers and the assimilation attempts they faced coming to town. The Gary-Alerding Settlement House was founded by the Catholic Church in 1923 with the purpose of “Americanizing” Gary’s workforce. The building would alter direction several times over the following decades, adjusting to changing balance sheets and social climate.

The final days were far from glamorous, however, and it was eventually shut down in 1971. Over forty years later, it’s still there.

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