GARY | Unveiling the newly renovated Marquette Park Pavilion is “the perfect gift to the community,” Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said.
The mayor helped kick off the grand-opening festivities and the Holiday Shopping Bazaar on Thursday at the historic structure.
The Prairie School building designed in the early 1920s by architect George Washington Maher has been restored to its former glory as part of the $28 million Marquette Park Lakefront East Project, which was funded by a grant from the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority.
“(Marquette) is one of our jewel parks, and this pavilion is here for the region to use for any kind of special occasion,” Freeman-Wilson said. “It’s one of Northwest Indiana’s best-kept secrets, and we intend to keep spilling the beans on just how beautiful and accommodating Marquette is.”
Among those joining the mayor for the grand-opening ceremonies were Bill Hanna, president of the RDA; Joel Baldin, of Chicago-based Hitchcock Design Group, which designed the project; Gary Parks Superintendent Lori Latham; LaShawn Brooks, Marquette Park Pavilion executive manager; and Cliff Rome, of Rome’s Joy Catering Gary, the pavilion’s caterer.
First District Councilwoman Marilyn Krusas welcomed guests.
During a tour of the pavilion, Brooks pointed to the many design details that recreate the aura of the Roaring ’20s, when the Marquette Park Pavilion was a destination for Chicago and Northwest Indiana business people and residents.
“When this facility was built in 1923, one of the requirements was that it be a residence. Today, it has that same feel of residence,” she said.
The formal lounge on the pavilion’s lowest level again features a bar where guests can enjoy cocktails and a warming kitchen for events. Modern touches also are included, such as equipment to create an Internet cafe and large-screen TVs.
“This lounge will accommodate 300 people with standing room or can be set up with tables for 50 to 75 people,” said Brooks, who joined the staff in May.
French doors lead out to a lower terrace that overlooks the waterway that flows through Marquette Park.
“This would be the perfect venue for a private wedding,” she said. “You still get the feel of the lakefront, but you’re secluded.”
For the Holiday Shopping Bazaar now through Saturday, select vendors are selling a variety of gifts inside the two-story main ballroom that can accommodate 175 people for special events. Concessions created by Rome’s Joy Catering Gary also are for sale during the bazaar.
The ballroom, with the restored barrel vault ceiling from Maher’s design and skylights, has been set up to showcase the various types of tables and furnishings available for occasions such as weddings, proms, galas and banquets.
Other highlights of this area are the balcony overlooking the ballroom, where DJs, photographers and videographers can set up for weddings, and two private rooms for a bride and her bridesmaids to relax.
Proms and weddings are among the many bookings that have been coming in to Events Coordinator Tiffany Merrills. Currently there are several high school proms scheduled for spring 2013 at the Marquette Park Pavilion.
“Every Saturday in June through August has been booked for weddings,” Brooks said. “We’re booking weddings for 2014.”