City Methadist Church (Gary,IN)

This info was found on a city website for Gary,IN

The city of Gary, Indiana was founded as a booming steel city as the twentieth century passed, and areas downtown saw the construction of several impressive buildings during these prosperous early years. In 1925, a cornerstone ceremony took place at 577 Washington St. to commemorate the construction of a Gothic Revival church called City Methodist. It was completed 21 months later, at the cost of one million dollars – $385,000 of which was contributed by the United States Steel Corp. (which also founded the city). Elbert Gary, the chairman of U.S. Steel and origin of the city’s name, donated a Skinner organ as well. The Bedford limestone structure consisted of a 50-foot tall sanctuary nave and elaborate stonework, and was able to seat 950 worshipers; City Methodist had a congregation of nearly 3,000 members in its heyday. The building was also home to Seaman Hall – a 1,000 seat auditorium, and a gymnasium with a full size basketball court. Storefronts were built into the building, with hopes that the income would offset the enormous maintenance costs.

During the 1920s, Pastor William Seaman rallied against the power of the Ku Klux Klan in Indiana, and welcomed black worshipers into City Methodist during a time when African Americans were not permitted in “white churches.”

Gary entered a downward spiral during the 1960s, like many other industrial cities during the period. As U.S. Steel employment dwindled, the residents of Gary moved to nearby suburbs; then as jobs left downtown, city many residents moved out altogether while crime and poverty rose. By 1973 the church’s congregation had only 300 members and by 1975 the Methodists moved out of the structure. A second congregation occupied the building until they left in the early 1980s; some storefronts and office space was utilized for a while but soon the entire campus was completely abandoned.

City Methodist was burned in the Great Gary Arson of 1997, resulting in a large portion of the roof collapsed or missing. It is now owned by the city of Gary, and its future remains unclear.

In 2009, parts of a remake of the movie A Nightmare On Elm Street were filmed at the church.

One of the many great things about flickr is the ability to look up the towns I’m traveling through while on the road and i use it all the time to find things to shoot. I found this church about a year ago. When i left for Alaska I knew this would be one of my stops along the way. Gary, IN is on the northern tip of lake Michigan and let me tell you its kind of a creepy place to visit. The church is located right downtown and while its very easy to get inside I didn’t feel to great about leaving my truck in the street. The place has kind of turned into the projects. There are still plenty of people in the town but many places I wouldn’t want to get out of my truck. The outside of the church is very hard to shoot and there’s now a big ugly fence around it. The outside is so grown over with brush and trees now that I didn’t get a shot of the outside that I even liked. I wasn’t to concerned with the outside anyway as I went to shoot the inside and let me tell you its one of the best places I’ve ever been inside. I arrived there the night before but decided it would be best to shoot during the day as I really didn’t want to be there alone in the dark. I plan on revisiting this place again very soon and when i have a few people with me. While I’m happy with the shots I took I can imagine so much more at this place and the town has so much for a photographer to explore. I cant wait to go back and its so close to all the light houses lake Michigan has to offer.

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