Celebrating Progress at Gary’s Geter Means House

Exterior rehabilitation is underway at historic residence of notable Black home builder

When the mid-century ranch house of Gary entrepreneur Geter Means landed on Indiana Landmarks’ 10 Most Endangered list last year, it was barely visible, deteriorating behind overgrown vegetation. Today, the appearance—and the property’s outlook—is much improved, as workers replace the failing roof and commence exterior rehabilitation.

Built in 1954, the home plays an important role in telling the story of the Means Manor neighborhood, the legacy of brothers Andrew and Geter Means. In the 1920s, discouraged by the lack of quality housing options for Gary’s Black community, the Means launched their own home-building business. By the 1950s, Means Brothers, Inc., had become one of the largest Black-owned real estate companies in the Midwest, constructing almost 2,000 homes and rental units in Gary alone.

They built Means Manor, a development of bungalows, ranches, and other houses—including their own—that became the preferred neighborhood for Gary’s Black middle class. Where African American homebuyers were denied mortgage loans, Andrew Means supplied promissory notes and let potential homebuyers help pay for their houses by helping to build them.

Yejide Ekunkonye’s grandparents were among those original homebuyers. In 2020 during the pandemic, she became more deeply connected with her family’s heritage by helping care for the Means Manor house built by her grandfather, the place where her father was born and raised, and which she recalls visiting as a child. Today, she sees Means Manor still mostly living up to the ideals of its founders, with well-kept houses and well-tended lawns. “It’s a strong community of neighbors helping neighbors,” says Ekunkonye. “There’s a pride of place that stems from the neighborhood’s inception.”

She founded the non-profit SayYestoMeans to help preserve the neighborhood and tell its story, inviting others to share their memories on its website, She and other neighbors have partnered with Indiana Landmarks to raise awareness of the Geter Means House, including cleaning up the exterior of the neglected property.

In May, Indiana Landmarks acquired the ranch house and began stabilizing it. We’ll rehabilitate the exterior and make other repairs before seeking a preservation-minded buyer. “We’re so grateful Indiana Landmarks took on the project, knowing their past record,” says Ekunkonye. “We hope whoever purchases the house will appreciate its history.”

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