The City Center Historic District (located in Gary’s Downtown) is one of two historic districts in Gary listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The existing buildings in the Downtown City Center are mostly commercial, early 20th century architecture. The architectural detailing on the buildings varies, which creates a dynamic character to Broadway, Gary’s main north-south street. These buildings are a representation of Gary’s rapid development in the early 20th century and its rise to be one of northwest Indiana’s most prosperous industrial cities. However, the condition of the City Center has changed greatly over the past fifty years as a majority of the buildings along Broadway are vacant and in poor condition. The buildings that stand today may be threatened by development but hold an important part of Gary’s historic heritage that, if preserved, can contribute greatly to the revitalization of the area.
North of 4th Avenue on each side of Broadway sits Gateway Park, a symbolic entry to Gary’s City Center Historic District. Gateway Park houses the oldest building in Gary, The Gary Land Company Building. This was the Land Company’s original building and served as City Hall and a post office when it was built in 1906. The Land Company Building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979 and was moved to Gateway Park when it was purchased by the Gary Historical and Cultural Society. It currently acts as a museum and visitor’s bureau.
A majority of the City Center Historic District is located along Broadway between 4th Avenue and 9th Avenue. The following are a few examples of historically important buildings along Broadway:
- Lake County Courthouse (Broadway & E. 4th Ave.) c. 1927 ; good condition; symmetrical style to City Hall
- Gary City Hall (Broadway & W. 4th Ave) c. 1927; good condition; symmetrical style to Courthouse
- Gary State Bank (Broadway & W. 5th Ave.) c. 1929, currently Chase Bank and offices; good condition
- Hotel Gary (578 Broadway) c. 1926, currently Genesis Towers senior development; good condition
- The Palace Theater (765-795 Broadway) c. 1925, vacant; poor condition; demolition being considered for safety reasons
- Tribe of K Building (840 Broadway) c. 1927, occupied; very good condition, gothic style terracotta detailing well maintained
- Elk’s Temple Lodge (801 Broadway) c. 1935, vacant; good condition, street level façade boarded up; architect
- George W. Maher & Son
- Sears, Roebuck and Company Building (821 Broadway) c. 1930, occupied; good condition, original street level façade altered/covered.
The greatest opportunity for revitalization and historic preservation on Broadway can be found on the west side of the 600 block. It contains an excellent example of early 20th century commercial architecture representing a culturally significant era of Gary’s past. Seven of the buildings on the 600 block are listed as contributing in the Historic District which makes them eligible to receive federal tax credits for their restoration. All of these buildings are vacant and their facades are in poor to fair condition. The structural integrity of each building needs to be evaluated to determine if the buildings are stable. At the least, the facades of these buildings should be preserved.
If restored, the following buildings could play a key role in the revitalization of Gary’s downtown:
- 618 Broadway, c. 1930
- 654 Broadway – Tribe of K Building, c. 1908 658 Broadway – Holmes Building, c. 1908
- 668 Broadway – Hurwich-Haller Building, c. 1930 678 Broadway – Junita Building, c. 1909
- 682 Broadway, c. 1907
- 684 Broadway, c. 1907
The City Center Historic District extends beyond the Broadway corridor. Following are examples of historically significant buildings in the Downtown City Center that should be strongly considered for protection or restoration during redevelopment:
- Dalton Apartments (133 E. 5th Ave) c. 1928, vacant; fair condition; currently in selective demolition process; planned for future use as residential
- Modern Apartments (143 E. 5th Ave) c. 1929, vacant; fair condition; currently in selective demolition process; planned for future use as residential
- YMCA Building (30 E. 6th Ave) c. 1922, occupied; Tudor style details in good condition, street level alterations to original facade
- Gary Post Office (601 Massachusetts St.) c. 1936, vacant; poor condition; Art Deco style with marble base in fair condition, damaged brick at rear
- City Methodist Church (517 Washington St.) c. 1935, vacant; very poor condition, heavily damaged in fire; currently undergoing selective demolition to become a “ruin garden”; listed as one of HLFI’s “Most Endangered Buildings in Indiana”
- Memorial Auditorium (E. 7th Ave. & Massachusetts St.) c. 1925, vacant, very poor condition; heavily damaged in fire, partial structure was demolished; NR 1994
- Parry-Shaw Building (717-731 Washington St.) c. 1926,vacant; poor condition; all windows broken/missing, terracotta in fair to good condition