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Gary Water Tower, Roosevelt High, Michigan Central Railroad Depot deemed most endangered places in Region
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Gary Water Tower, Roosevelt High, Michigan Central Railroad Depot deemed most endangered places in Region

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The Gary Water Tower, Gary Roosevelt High School, the Michigan Central Railroad Depot in Michigan City and East Chicago’s Calumet Trust and Savings Bank are among the most endangered places in the Calumet Region.

The Calumet Heritage Partnership — a partnership of arts organizations, historical societies, libraries and other groups in the Calumet Region, which spans the watersheds of the Calumet rivers of Illinois and Indiana — recently announced its Calumet Heritage Area Most Endangered list for 2020. It identifies historic places threatened "by neglect, disuse, or new development" in the Calumet Heritage Area, which includes all of Lake, Porter, and LaPorte counties in Northwest Indiana.

The list includes the water tower Indiana-American Water plans to tear down in Gary.

Gary Water Tower, Gary Roosevelt, Michigan Central Railroad Depot named among most endangered places in Region

Indiana American Water plans to raze Gary's oldest water tower.

"Last year, Indiana-American Water announced its intention to demolish the 133-foot water tower that has marked Gary’s skyline since 1909," the Indiana Landmarks historic preservation group said in a news release. "Estimates suggest rehabilitating the iconic tower wouldn’t cost much more than demolition, and preservation advocates want the utility company to reconsider."

One of Gary's best known high schools also ranked as among the most endangered historic buildings in the Region.

"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," Indiana Landmarks said in the news release.

Roosevelt High School

Roosevelt High School in Gary, as shown in December 2017.  

"In Michigan City, the developer of waterfront condominiums has offered the circa 1910 Prairie-style Michigan Central Railroad Depot to anyone who can pay for its relocation," according to Indiana Landmarks. "If nobody steps forward, the depot will be leveled to make way for the new development."

The Calumet Trust and Savings Bank that was established in 1909 for industrial workers in East Chicago and was later occupied by city and federal government offices made the list because it's sat vacant for two decades. The Calumet Heritage Partnership warned the century-old bank building needed a new roof, exterior masonry repairs and other renovations after an interior fire.

The list also highlights challenges to saving sacred places, including St. Michael the Archangel Church at 83rd and South Shore Drive in Chicago and Reformation Evangelical Lutheran Church at 11310 S. Forest Avenue in Chicago's Pullman neighborhood.

Sacred Heart Catholic Church

Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Whiting

"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," Indiana Landmarks said in a press release. "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."

On the Illinois side of the Calumet Region, threatened landmarks include Jackson Park, the South Shore Cultural Center and the Midway Plaisance Park, whose landscapes could be encroached upon by the Obama Presidential Center and a Tiger Woods golf course.

The Calumet Heritage Partnership further warned that the South Chicago Masonic Temple at 2939 E. 91st St. had been abandoned for a decade and is subject to further deterioration and that the Loretto Academy and Institute of the Blessed Virgin at 1447 E. 65th St. was sold to new ownership that has not yet revealed if they intend to preserve it.

Gallery: Historic buildings in downtown Gary

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.

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