Threatened Places in the Region
Heritage transcends borders, a fact that inspired residents on both sides of the Indiana-Illinois state line to form the Calumet Heritage Partnership in the 1990s. A nonprofit organization, the group is an alliance of local historical organizations and historic sites working to raise awareness and advocate for historic buildings, neighborhoods, and natural areas throughout the region. In Indiana, the Calumet Heritage Area includes all of Lake, Porter, and LaPorte counties.
This month, the group released its first Most Endangered Places list, a collection of historic places threatened by neglect, disuse, or new development.
Several significant landmarks in northwest Indiana are included on the list, including the Gary Water Tower, Gary’s Roosevelt High School, the Michigan Central Railroad Depot in Michigan City, and East Chicago’s Calumet Trust and Savings Bank.
Last year, Indiana American Water announced its intention to demolish the 133-foot water tower that has marked Gary’s skyline since 1909. Estimates suggest rehabilitating the iconic tower wouldn’t cost much more than demolition, and preservation advocates want the utility company to reconsider.
Roosevelt High School is also in jeopardy after burst pipes and millions of dollars in deferred maintenance forced students out the doors last February, with no certain plans to return. In Michigan City, the developer of waterfront condominiums has offered the c.1910 Prairie-style Michigan Central Railroad Depot to anyone who can pay for its relocation. If nobody steps forward, the depot will be leveled to make way for the new development.
This year’s list also aims to highlight the growing challenges behind preserving sacred places. In northwest Indiana, consolidation among Catholic congregations led to demolition of several historic churches, and left others — like Whiting’s Sacred Heart Catholic Church – on the brink of closure. The original Gary First AME church, designed by local African American architect William Wilson Cooke, has been vacant since the congregation constructed a new sanctuary on the same lot.
The Calumet Heritage Area’s Most Endangered Places List was created in partnership with Preservation Chicago and Indiana Landmarks’ Northwest Field Office, along with input from preservationists across the region. You can check out the complete list at www.calumetheritage.org.
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