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Gary will let people explore abandoned buildings in push to preserve architecture

Gary is working to preserve architectural landmarks like the City Methodist Church, pictured above.

Gary is working to preserve historic architecture downtown like the City Methodist Church, Union Station and the Heat, Light and Water Building.

The Gary Redevelopment Commission will give free tours of architectural gems around the city if it can raise $7,500 through a crowd-funding campaign online. The Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority has pledged an additional $7,500 in matching funds if that goal is met by March 15.

"The City of Gary has such a rich history thanks to many historic buildings in the downtown area," IHCDA Executive Director Jacob Sipe said. "This tour will allow residents and visitors of Gary to get a never before seen look at these iconic structures."

Gary will offer guided walking tours in nine downtown buildings, both still in use and abandoned. Visitors will get the rare opportunity to enter the long-vacant Union Station and old Post Office, which will be secured for the occasion. Tour guides will tell the city's story, stress the importance of preservation efforts and talk about attempts to "reimage Gary’s brand as a vibrant, walkable environment."

There also will be open house for exploring the buildings without a guided tour.

"Gary's history and natural beauty are unlike any other place in America," Planning and Redevelopment Executive Director Joseph Van Dyk said. "A lot of folks think only of industry when they think of Gary. While that is certainly part of our legacy, there is also a lot of depth to our cultural history and architecture. We welcome the opportunity to share our unique story with others."

Through March 15, people can donate to patronicity.com/preservegary

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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.