City United Methodist Church of Gary, Indiana


Perhaps one of the most iconic abandoned structures in Gary, City United Methodist Church was once the pride of the community. Built in 1925, the classic Gothic edifice was the result of an ambitious priest backed by U.S. Steel dollars. But the huge structure would burden the church with enormous maintenance costs for decades, and when Gary’s population declined in the 1960s and 70s the church struggled to make ends meet.

When the parishioners left town, so too did the dollars. Now one of the most photographed churches in Indiana, City United Methodist sits exposed and crumbling since it was abandoned nearly forty years ago.

cover photo courtesy the idiot photographer


City Church, 1929
City Church, 1929

Seaman’s City Church

Gary’s first Methodist church was established in 1906. In October of 1916, Dr. William Grant Seaman became pastor. Seaman relished his role in the growing congregation, but he had bigger dreams; he wanted to build a new church to serve the social, cultural, and spiritual needs of the town’s citizens.

City-Methodist-Groundbreaking-1925Seaman wanted to offer a religious oasis in the midst of a neighborhood dotted with saloons and brothels at the time.

His vision and the financial assistance of U.S. Steel Corporation resulted in the erection of the new City Church at 6th Avenue and Washington Street (map). The steel company donated the site on which the pastor wanted to build and agreed to pay for nearly half the total cost of construction.

The pastor planned for the main sanctuary to accommodate 950 parishioners; shows and events in adjacent Seaman Hall could seat another thousand. The church took 21 months to build and cost the Methodist Church $800,000. Architects Lowe and Bollenbacher were hired to design the structure. The plans called for the main sanctuary to accommodate 950 parishioners; shows and events in adjacent Seaman Hall could seat another thousand.

(Click thumbnails to enlarge)

City-Methodist-Cornerstone-1925-2 City-Methodist-Cornerstone-1925Hundreds would attend the groundbreaking, a grand event held on January 25, 1925 (above). Methodist Bishop Frederick D. Leete (standing) presided over the ceremony while Seaman (seated at left) ceremoniously turned the first shovel of dirt on the site of the new church.

Judge-Gary-OrganIntroduced as City Church, it was a grandiose structure and one of the true Gothic churches in the country at the time. The great vaulted sanctuary was supported by massive pillars while the chancel and altar were carved from oak.

Judge Elbert Gary, namesake of the town and chairman of U.S. Steel personally donated an ornate, four-manual Skinner organ to the church (pictured at left).

The second building constructed on the property was known as Seaman Hall. This building contained four stories and a basement.

City-Methodist-Congregation-1930sSeaman Hall also had an oak-paneled fellowship hall, corporate offices, Sunday school rooms, a gymnasium, and a large kitchen and dining room.

The acoustics were excellent, and the stage was well-equipped for first-class productions. Films could be shown on a huge theater-sized screen.

On the third level there was a gym for activities and interactive play.

City-Methodist-Service-1930sOn Oct. 3, 1926, Pastor Seaman conducted the first services in City Church.

City-Methodist-Christian-Adventure-WeekThere was no shortage of celebration for the grand opening; the next seven days had nightly Thanksgiving celebrations, eulogies, and dedications.

The exuberant pastor proclaimed the opening events to be the climax of his ministerial career and the beginning of a revival of faith and brotherhood for Gary.

Gary-CityMethodistChurch-1929-cathedral City-Methodist-ChoirChurch-Gym-1930s-2 City-Methodist-conference-room-1930sHistoric images courtesy DePauw University & Calumet Regional Archives


Built to Excess

Despite its beauty, the building had its fair share of detractors; Gary was still young and the building was constructed at great cost and stature for a congregation and town that size.

Maintenance costs were immense and would create a financial burden on the church for decades.


Immediately after opening, some were already labeling the structure “Seaman’s folly.”

City-Methodist-burn-them-before-2Others complained the ornamental design smacked of popery and was Seaman’s monument to himself.

Envious ministers of other faiths feared competition, as did an influential restaurateur who stalled completion of the church’s planned cafeteria as to not hurt his own business in town.

Not all of Seaman’s plans would come to fruition. His wish for a bowling alley went unfulfilled, and the rooftop garden on Seaman Hall was never finished.

Ornate fireplace then and today. Now reads “Burn them”

City-Methodist-burn-them-before City-Methodist-burn-themBy 1927, the pastor’s 1,700-member congregation had a paid staff of six, including an assistant minister, directors of athletics and Christian education, a music master, and a secretary.

Gary-CityMethodistChurch-1939Interested in cultural affairs, Seaman recruited lecturers to speak in Seaman Hall, suggested scripts to the dramatics club, showed travel films, and sponsored interfaith pageants. The music program was said to be one of the best in the country.

City-Methodist-Church-1960sWilliam Seaman’s enigmatic approach failed to consider efforts to integrate the minority population of Gary, however. City Church failed to broaden its white middle class constituency.

The congregation did not put forth effort to open its arms to blacks, Latinos, or eastern Europeans.

In addition, Seaman’s messages and methods were starting to rub his parishioners the wrong way.

City-Methodist-Church-1960s-2In September of 1929, these dilemmas led to Dr. Seaman’s removal; disgruntled parishioners had him transferred involuntarily to an Ohio church. Ironically, Seaman’s successor was so unpopular detractors later wished the “old founder” was back.

When William Seaman died in an automobile accident in 1944, his body was cremated and returned to City Church to be interred in the sanctuary.

City United Methodist Church, 1955


Peak & Decline

The Great Depression was a difficult time for the church; a lack of financing reduced the resources available to City Church pastors in the following years. For additional income the church leased space in Seaman Hall to Gary College, which offered a satellite campus in the offices of the building.

City-Methodist-cathedralDespite continual financial problems, the church would enjoy some success. A $50,000 support grant would provide for long-overdue maintenance to be performed on the building in 1945.

Around this time the Indiana University Center began its occupancy of Seaman Hall, and its presence would grow; by 1949, Indiana University Northwest occupied 3-floors of the annex.

After World War II, Gary enjoyed a religious revival and by the early 1950s membership eventually surpassed 3,000. A small restructuring during the 1950s would see the church named changed from City Church to City United Methodist Church.

City-Methodist-archThe church and adjoining Seaman Hall were centers of cultural life in Gary for decades, with Seaman Hall hosting plays, musicals, and pageants open to all city residents.

The church’s congregation rapidly declined during the 1960s and the church was forced to shut down several community programs to keep the doors open. (see a 1967 City United Methodist Church Directory). 

Seaman Hall would stay open and be home to Gary Children’s Theater and Gary Music Theater during the 1960s and into the 70s.


By 1973 the membership had fallen to 320, and with a median age of 62 and a disenchantment of the inner city by the white congregation rising, only a third of the members attended service regularly.

Ex-City United Methodist choir member Donald Housekeeper shared:

“It got to be too dangerous. We had a wedding where the father of the bride’s car was stolen during the ceremony. People were afraid to come down to anything unless it was in the daytime and only in the middle of the daytime, so there was no evening programs.”

City-Methodist-Cathedral-2Offerings weren’t enough to even pay the utility bills, much less repair the antique organ, leaking roof and failing boilers.

Church leadership attempted to find a congregation interested in the structure, but no group wanted to take on the expense of maintaining the enormous building.

After nearly 50 years of service to Gary, the City United Methodist Church finally closed its doors on October 5th, 1975.

Top: Seaman Hall before & after. Bottom: the stage today

Seaman-Hall-before Seaman-Hall-afterSeaman-Hall-Stage*

Abandonment & Salvation

methodist-church-back-hallAfter the Methodist Church abandoned the building, it was later sold to Indiana University which continued to make use of Seaman Hall as a satellite campus.

Over the years several attempts were made to renovate and re-appropriate the City Methodist church, but none would come to fruition before October of 1997 when a large fire ravaged downtown Gary.

The fire destroyed most of the roof, exposing the interior to the elements and accelerating decay.

It wasn’t until 1999 the city finally put up a fence around the long-abandoned church to protect it from vandals and drug dealings.


In June of 2005 the city announced plans to demolish the Gary landmark.

methodist-church-officesWith no developers or private investors interested in the building, the Gary Housing Authority couldn’t think of a use for it that would justify the cost of rehabilitation.

The city was planning to raze the church and create a parking lot for the senior citizen residents of the neighboring Genesis Towers.

In July of 2005, the ailing church would find an ally in David Wright, Gary’s new city planning director. Wright proposed to keep only the Gothic sanctuary, allowing the space to grow into a garden-like ruin.


He envisioned City Methodist becoming a small, landscaped park surrounded by the tower limestone walls.

methodist-church-exterior-1The rear part of the building, office space, and Seaman Hall would be demolished – but only after the limestone, decorative masonry and other fixtures were sold off to finance the project.

Early estimates for the project ranged from $100k to $300k, but Wright hoped to get $50,000 or so from sale of the fixtures.

As long as the church tower doesn’t leave our skyline I look at it as a victory,” said Wright.

methodist-church-exterior-3Unfortunately, scavengers had the same idea. City workers found the building robbed of stained glass and ladders propped up inside the church, left behind by thieves.

What materials were left were not of enough value to finance a renovation, so the project was reluctantly shelved.



The Future

Church-Gym-Roof-CollapsedLong-time Gary residents remember the City United Methodist Church as one of the north side institutions that welcomed everyone.

The church was one of the “big three” – the YWCA, Memorial Auditorium, and City Church – where residents could all come together for various events.

Today the church still stands, but most of the complex is beyond repair. There isn’t much left of the gym; after the 1997 opened up the roof, it later completely collapsed in 2010 (below). Nearly every window in Seaman Hall is missing, and the building is crumbling inside and out.

City Church gym: then, 2010 pre-roof collapse, and today

Church-Gym-1930smethodist-church-gym-2010-before-collapse The cathedral might be missing parts of its wall and roof, but otherwise it appears to be sound. When the city planned to turn it into a ruins garden in 2006, engineers confirmed the 80 year-old church was still structurally safe. As long as the city lacks the necessary funds to take action, the church will continue to be safe from man as well.

A member of the final congregation reminds us William Seaman’s ashes are likely still buried in the church sanctuary. Will Seaman and his classic Gothic cathedral still be at the corner of 6th and Washington in 2026 for the church’s 100th birthday?

(Click thumbnails to enlarge)

desk garyb08 methodist-church-exterior-angleCity-Methodist-Church-Detail methodist-church-muralmethodisthdr2 Methodist-church-in-the-snow*

City United Methodist as seen from Ambassador Apartments, 2013

pictures courtesy the Idiot Photographer except cover photo, courtesy Tabula Rasa


Sometimes Interesting has teamed up with the Idiot Photographer to bring the reader a rare and unique insight to the history of Gary, Indiana. Over the course of this month we will feature various structures around Gary and share their history.



    • We will see how vain you think it is when it is your turn to face our creator. What is really sad is that you are apparently a parent with that kind of attitude about God.

      • Ugh. He could bee the most faithful person in the universe, but you wouldn’t know it as you are less than a minister of the word, and certainly not of the spirit. What he says is obviously true. What you regurgitate is man, not spirit. Be gone vile emissary.

      • Actually, the downfall of this church has nothing to do with their religion. The fact of the matter is that they turned their back on the changing community, focusing instead on the traditions and trappings that come with that rather than looking towards what they could have accomplished through working with the people who were living there. Does that make them bad people? Does it mean that you should judge them because of their beliefs? I think not.

        What should be held pitiable is that they had a great chance to make a difference within the community of Gary and lost it. Now, not only have they lost that chance, the aftereffects of those choices is that people like you view their beliefs in disdain and in contempt due to the human condition of making mistakes. Perhaps a bit of humility on your part in trying to understand why people believe what they believe would assist you on your personal spiritual journey instead of dismissing everything other than your own beliefs as being a lie, being unworthy of your time, or being the thought of weaker minds.

    • Actually, I’m not sad. And I don’t judge you. I daresay you’re not qualified to dismiss my traditions and beliefs. You don’t know me, but your pompously dismissive and self-satisfied comment tells me a lot about you.

    • We get it you are an atheist, Good for you but it still does not make you any better than anyone else so get off your high horse and go have a vegetarian meal and pretend people actually care about your pretentious opinion.

    • Thank you. The original idea was to do a single post, but Gary has so much to offer we realized we couldn’t possibly limit the project in such a way.

      It’s an ironic blessing that Gary’s financial misfortune has also been the driving force of preserving these buildings and their history; if the town had money, these structures would have been demolished a long time ago.

  1. Superb article, as always, but kudos to the Idiot Photographer, her (?) best work here to date, especially “bracing”, “back hall” and “last standing 1”.

    • Why thank you very much for the kind words! Last standing was my heartbreak moment where I went to take a photo of the upper balcony seats and found that in the 5 months since I was last there someone had removed almost all of them.
      “Her” is indeed the appropriate pronoun, last I checked 😉

      • Scrapers !!!it made me mad too also to see someone broke the last surviving window in the back of the hall. Since 2009 my first visit much has changed for the worse by visitors or scrappers

  2. Forgive my lateness in checking out your latest post! As always, nice work. It is most affecting seeing old photos of this building, as we are about as familiar with it as our own homes. I had to stop and stare at the fireplace. It’s still grand today, just in a differnt way…

    • This man is the photographer responsible for the cover photo, ladies and gentlemen.

      Thank you sir for capturing the beautiful structure so well! The words might tell a story, but the picture grasps.

  3. Nice! but a couple corrections.Seaman was transferred to a Lancaster Ohio Church due to the oppostion to some of US steels labor practices.Some say no such as James B Lane.but Seamans son said that was the reason in later interviews.Seamans ashes were removed from the chancel see “Resolution in closing City church” file DePauw univ archives case 58.The only ashes in the church are those of Seth Thomas see “Seth Thomas Memorial”an urban explorer whos pictures were subbmitted into the Depauw archives.Building was sold in 1980 to a Black Baptist congregation.2 older churches that survived “Christ Episcopal”(on right of last picture)and “First Presbyterian” both just recently just occupied.Both were major players in the Saga.City church closed due to a failed merger with First Presyterian.see” Where do we go form here” report of the state of city church 1973…….

    • Wow, thanks for the information. My access was limited to what DePauw and others have online, which obviously isn’t everything. I appreciate the additional insight from someone who’s been there. Thanks for the comment.

  4. The church also had a large school, gymnasium and an auditorium named the Seaman Hall where the city would hold community meetings, plays and musical events.

  5. Living not too far I took pictures everytime I go starting in 09 i have a thousand pictures the place has changed so much the first year as far back as 1991 it was descibed as having been physically devistated in (At home in the city)James Lewis

  6. Is it true that the building is slated to be torn down later this month or summer?

    • It’s hard to say because there have been so many false reports of demolition over the years; it’s one thing to have plans, but another to have the funding to execute. Most recently it sounded like they wanted to turn it into a ruins garden, which would be cheaper than demolition. If there’s any money to be spent I’d wonder if that would be the result rather than complete demolition?

  7. It is too late for the ruins garden the whole structure will need to come down in my opinion .The mayor and her staff make money though by charging the film makers a fee to shoot movies in and around the church…. easy pocket cash so i don’t think its coming down anytime soon.I also was told by more than one explorer that they were asked for a permit that must be purchased at town hall to shoot pictures for 50.00 in and around the city .Someone recently cut down the forest in front of the building and installed a sign by the corner .but the website or researching it leads to a disconnected number.Also crime in the city and suburbs of Gary increased this year 30.homicides this year alone My opinion it is getting dangerous making outsiders exploring as easy target for trouble . Not only that but it is dangerous getting around in the church easy to get hurt or fall through floors etc.

  8. Wow! Talk about a stroll down memory lane! I was baptized at City Methodist Church (born at Methodist Hospital in 1943) and was confirmed at CMC in 1955 by Rev. Allan Rice. I learned to swim at the YMCA, attended Ambridge School and then Horace Mann. I have fond memories of Memorial Auditorium and Marquette Park. My family moved out of Gary in 1958, but my childhood memories are of Gary. Anyone out there from the Horace Mann graduation class of 1961?

    • Two items: #1 – This is for Bill Shirey, Is there any possibility that a relative of yours may have been married or is married to Betsy Shirey (or Beth / Elizabeth) whose maiden name was Ross ? If there is any family connection, please contact Pastor Bob and Sandy in NJ by e-mail: and or you may write to them at P. O. Box 175, Hightstown, NJ 08520–0175 THANK YOU.
      #2 – Yes, it is very sad to see the pictures and learn of the fate of what had been City United Methodist Church in Gary, IN. From what we read, it is not clear if it had begun as a Methodist Church, or what it “undenominational” in the beginning and later became a part of Methodism? While I am especially interested in architecture, particularly church architecture (although not professionally, just admiringly so), it is encouraging to understand that according to the Bible, God’s presence is not limited to or confined to structures built and dedicated for sacred purposes. Worship of God and the witness of the Word in the fellowship of believers, whether it be a gathering in a home or in a storefront mission, are still the venue for many vital encounters between the Lord and those who love, trust, worship and serve the Almighty and merciful God as revealed in our Savior Jesus Christ, Who promised when even a two or three assemble in His name, He is in our midst. Much of our awareness of the Holy Spirit is in such little meetings, as well as in our personal sense of God’s grace and truth in private and family prayer and study of the Scriptures.
      May wisdom and resources be obtained for the decision-makers to know and do what will prove most appropriate for the buildings and grounds portrayed there in Gary, Indiana. This information was forwarded to us by the organist at our historic Fresh Ponds Chapel in South Brunswick Township, NJ, which was built in 1840 as the Methodist Episcopal Church at Fresh Ponds. On October 6, 2013, we celebrate the chapel’s 173rd anniversary in the original building, which became a part of the Gospel Mission Corps in 1963, along with its adjacent one-room schoolhouse and cemetery surrounding three sides of the chapel. After some necessary repairs ten years ago, the facilities are in excellent condition, although they are not elaborate, they are appropriately serviceable
      for ongoing meetings and ministries in both English and in Spanish in a rural part of Central New Jersey.

    • Bill Shirey,
      Good to read your words here. My wife, Virginia Bland and I were 1961 graduates of Horace Mann and have been committee members for many of the reunions. We are the keepers of the spreadsheet of class members’ addresses. It would be good to read an email from you. Our email address is
      Tom Preston

  9. Baptized there. Married there by Allan Rice. All five of our children baptized there also. It makes me sick to view these photos.

  10. Oct 5th is coming around again which marks the anniversary of when the church was organized and discontinued .Traveling downtown anymore is just a dumb idea.We explored “Gary Nut and Bolt factory ” only to come out and have 4 Lake County cops in bullet proof gear all sporting “Gang Unit Identifiction Tags” surrounding the car .They asked us if we realized how dangereous it was to be there.

  11. I have always been courious about the Methodist church in Gary. Even though I wasn’t a Methodist. Thank you for the history on that grand icon of Gary. Old buildings and their history have always fascinated me no matter where they are. I am originally from Gary as were my parents and a lot of people I know. I hope pastor Seamens remains can be Inturned in a more peaceful and respectable resting place if he hasn’t been already. He is a man of God and a man of peace and he deserves a better place of rest.

  12. A committee of Nine was appointed to oversee the disposition of the building and its contents .a date was set of Oct 5 1975 to close the church.The committee also arranged for the transfer of Seaman’s ashes from the chancel 9 see committee of nine minutes Jan 5,Sept 11,Sept 22 1975( Resolution in closing City church folder Case 58 Depauw University archives

  13. I am a Gary native. I was born in the early 80s so all I know are the decaying states of the iconic landmarks that serve to remind me of what my city once was and what it has become. These pictures always make me a mix of proud and sad, because they are beautiful, apparently able to still be sound despite time and lack of maintenance, and symbolic. But my sadness is not only for the community around it but for any beautiful thing that is allowed to fall apart. I may also be thinking selfishly as I am planning my wedding and realize that it probably fits perfectly what I would envision as the location for the ceremony. Perhaps that is the direction that any future renovations on dilapidated buildings like this should take, assuming any renovations ever ever ever occur: capitalize on the architecture, history, and aesthetics of such structures and rent them out as banquet halls, meeting venues, and low priced office spaces to encourage local businesspeople, with the city taking a percentage to help fund public works and maintenance of the grounds. Most undoubtedly a pipe dream for more reasons than I dare count or go into at this time, but still …

  14. This is my first time reading this article. I am a lifelong Gary resident. I was born in ’67 and I have always wanted to know the history of City United Methodist Church. I always thought it was a Catholic Church. When I was younger I remember the beautiful stained glass windows. I often wondered about how it looked in the beginning. This article was great. The pictures were awesome. We have lots of historical areas in Gary. I look forward to more articles from you.

  15. These pictures are haunting. I grew up in Miller until we moved to Hobart in the early 60s. Are there any pictures of downtown Gary from the mid 1960s? My mother didn’t drive so we would take the bus from Miller to downtown Gary weekly. I have vivid memories of the downtown area, especially Goldblatts, the lunch counter/soda fountain at Kresgees, a bank and Sears. Also taking the South Shore to Chicago. Started kindergarten at Wirt until Marquette was built. Only went there 2 years before we moved. Also remember the Congregational Church in Miller with the Tastee Freeze across the street.

  16. Hi, I’m from British Columbia, Canada and I just happened to come across one of your stories earlier this week and now “I’m hooked”. I’ve read through your “Top 10” and now I’m going through your “Appendix”. I love history and more so history that tells personal stories. Of course major world history is important and interesting, but the more personal stories bring the past to life. I’ve already learned so much that I wasn’t aware of. For instance, I knew of and where Gary, Indiana is because of Michael Jackson, but I was not aware of how it is turning into a similar situation to Detroit. So sad, but it’s important to be aware of what is happening in our world. Thank you for bringing all the buildings and places “back-to-life” that may have been lost and forgotten. The world becomes smaller and more accessible through your stories. I look forward to reading many more!

    • Wow, well thanks Suzy I appreciate you taking the time to read all the stories! it means a lot to hear you liked them enough to read through so many. 🙂

      Thanks for reading. I love doing this, I learn just as much as you guys from putting these together!

  17. I was curious to find out some information about possibly coming to the location for a photo session. Wondering if it is still standing and such? Would you be able to help me out? I am very interested in this. I would greatly appreciate it! 🙂

    • Cheryl, as far as I know the building is still standing. It is easily accessible, right off the street. You could visit right now, but I would advise traveling in numbers for safety and keeping your visits to during daytime hours only.

      • I just wanted to comment as a resident of Gary. The church is still standing but let’s make this perfectly clear, when going around abandoned buildings ANYWHERE you should be careful. Let’s don’t make it seem that Gary is this dangerous place where you have to travel in numbers. Think about how we as residents feel about strangers coming into our community to take pictures of all the history that has been destroyed by the change of economic times of a once thriving community. These persons don’t even offer any help or support of the community. So we welcome visitors but despise the exploitation.

        • Greetings Dennie, thanks for stopping by. You are correct, safety is in numbers when exploring. That’s why I recommend this when someone asks about exploring any location. 😉
          I’m sorry if you feel it’s exploitative, I look at it as more raising awareness and remembering the history. Cheers!

    • Hi, I’m a bit late replying so this may be of no use to you. I visited in April 2015. There was a building contractor’s fence around the whole site, but along the back wall (ie not the road that the community centre is on), opposite two dumpsters, is a bit that curls up. I lifted that and crawled under; don;t wear baggy clothing if you go. A couple of people took a passing interest but no-one bothered me, despite there being a cop car parked nearby (which I only saw from the top floor once I was in; it was sealed off with tape but it took no effort to pass that, and it didn’t seem to me to be any more dangerous than anywhere else that wasn’t sealed off. But I’m not a structural architect 🙂 I spent maybe 40 mins inside and did some HDR work, but there is next to nothing left now. It has been largely gutted. There were no bystanders when I exited.

      Good luck if you haven’t been yet


  18. i am very interested in restoring the church,who do i contact to purchase the property,this is an american about a fixer upper,people will donate money from the four corners of the earth to see this church restored to its former sanctuary

    • The church has been sealed up with a new fence all the way around and some places in the inside .Since the roof collapse it is really off limits due to liability to the city if someone were to get hurt and because of the building on 5th closest to the church is being torn down for a bank drive thru.Because of the fence and signs if caught inside it will be considered trespassing.The Police are looking into any cars after hours being parked at Charter school and employees of the school are told to call police if they see anyone inside .There are web sites you can virtually tour the church without leaving your couch.

  19. I was the Senior Secretary and Secretary to the Sr. Pastor at this once grand church. It saddens me to see the shape she’s in today. Thank you for the article, even though I found it difficult to read without getting teary-eyed.

    • Thanks for stopping by and taking the trip down memory lane with us. I can’t imagine how tough it must be to see the church in the state it is today after having spent significant time working there in the past. At least the memories are positive, and those are what help build the church’s legacy.

  20. Hi, I’m coming to Gary in a couple of months (from England) on a motorbike for photography of abandoned buildings. What’s access like in the day time? Is it safe to wander around looking like a tourist/idiot? Can you still get into the church?

    Many thanks

    • Hi David, the church is very easily accessible, right on the corner of an arterial street. There may or may not still be fencing around the property but I would suspect it is not in the best state of repair and not something that would stop a motivated urban explorer. If you want to visit it should be during the daytime and if possible I would recommend going with a buddy. Keep in mind it is still an economically depressed area and therefore probably not a place you’d want to walk around alone looking lost like a tourist. 😉
      Good luck!

  21. Use the left over stone work to repair other buildings. The city can use the fill in road repair. Build a monument to it’s memory. Sell the organ for parts. If the city can’t do this they might as well close the town down!

  22. Love the photographs in this piece. I had been thinking recently of how the world has changed. Big churches and large estates were often created by the wealthy and such monuments often lasted for centuries. And even in their decay they remain beautiful. I look at strip malls and fail to see such beauty or how they’ll look much better in their decline. People starved and died to create some of the great masterpieces in architecture. It’s hard to reconcile the many layers that go into what we create.

    • Hi Noelle! Yes, there’s a stark contrast between the longevity of cathedrals and strip malls. Thankfully, too. Regarding the layers, I think that especially holds true in urban environments. It seems the more rural a structure, the better odds for longevity. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

    • Sounds like the Trivial Pursuit of burials Jack, I’m in. Can I have Science & Nature?

  23. Great article giving information about this beautiful old church. I’m going there this weekend to shoot this site. I was last here in 2008.

  24. The vanity of those who believe in the arrogant myth called athiesm. They are so arrogant that they have killed more of those who do not share their faith than all of those who believe in a God ever have.

    • Hi Rebecca, I spoke with a photographer who visited the church several months ago and I heard the building is completely beyond repair at this point. There was a recent discussion (within the last few years) to establish a park on the site and preserve the remainder of the church in a state of arrested decay, but funding issues have put the brakes on any movement. If the money problem is solved there’s also the debate between preserving history and gentrification of the neighborhood. I think at the end of the day, money talks. If a developer came through and wanted to do something with that property, I doubt those in city hall would stand in the way.

  25. I have really enjoyed reading all of the above. I also was baptized there in 1949 – the Church I was attending did not have a baptismal and we were allowed to use City Church’s. I’m not sure but I think it was in Seaman Hall, but I might be wrong about that. Sorry to see what has happened.

  26. If you think City Methodist is beautiful, come visit St. John’s Lutheran Church of Tolleston (original name in 1870) at 2235 W. 10th Ave. The school was built in 1914, and the current sanctuary was built in 1924; it is actually older than City Methodist and the church is 40 years older than Gary itself.We have pictures that you can see at the Facebook page @LutheranStJohnGaryIN.

  27. Was the church and it’s events really open to all people? Or just white people? Could that be one of the church’s downfalls? White flight left little to no white people behind. If they weren’t open to “diversity” then naturally they would become unsuccessful in Gary me

    • The Methodist Episcopal Church did not officially discriminate along racial lines. However, there was a black Central Conference from 1839 until 1970, when it was merged into the newly formed United Methodist Church, created when the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren denomination united. The isolation and nonacceptance of the traditionally black congregations was a matter of deep heartbreak to many Methodists throughout the 1930s – 1960s, particularly among the theological community centered around Garrett Seminary and the University of Chicago Theological school. I find it somewhat unusual that the church “went dark” (closed) in 1975, because they should have been coming off of an extremely successful decade in the ’60s. Old buildings are ferociously expensive, endless money pits for the trustees unless they have good endowments. Most congregations that are started by agencies or individuals, like US Steel, as opposed to growing from a strong congregational base, struggle and decline. City Methodist is unfortunately typical rather than exceptional. The reason DePauw University archives are mentioned so often in previous conversations is because the archives of the Indiana Conference are held at DePauw, a traditionally Methodist school.

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