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Dresses at abandoned Gary motel disappear just as mysteriously

Two artists hung dresses and clothes at the abandoned Interstate Motor Inn on E. Dunes Highway in Gary.

Dresses, pantsuits and other clothes materialized one day in the long-vacant Holiday Inn on Dunes Highway in Gary after two artists in nearby Miller decided they wanted to brighten up the abandoned husk of a building.

The dresses vanished just as suddenly and mysteriously.

Miller-based artists Deborah Weiss and Jennifer Taylor recently hung the clothing at the former Interstate Motor Inn on U.S. 12/20 in an art project that attracted a lot of attention from passersby who weren't initially sure what to make of it.

An unknown person or persons since came in and took down all the dresses, which fluttered in the breeze in the vacant shells of all 28 rooms on the second floor of the motel for more than a week.

"Sadly, someone removed all the dresses. Another mystery," Taylor said. "I'm mostly annoyed. No idea who did it."

The building's owner could not be reached for comment. The motel at 3690 E. Dunes Highway, once so picturesque as to be featured on a postcard, was shuttered during the 1990s and has since deteriorated to an empty shell.

Gary police took note of the clothes that rippled in the winds in every empty second-floor room, and that they were removed.

"At this time I do not know who took them down," Gary Police Department Cmdr. Jack Hamady said.

Taylor, who owns the Painted Board Studio on Lake Street, and Weiss, an art teacher at Wirt-Emerson Visual and Performing Arts High Ability Academy in Miller, had wanted to call attention to a blighted structure many drive past every day without noticing. They had discussed hanging up white sheets to represent ghosts and settled on clothes, which sparked much speculation online about whether it was meant to be a Halloween prank or some kind of statement.

"We just wanted to make people curious and wonder what it was," Taylor said.

They've discussed pursuing similar projects in the future in the hope of getting more people to take notice of abandoned structures in Gary and do something about them.

"That space feels sad," Weiss said. "We wanted to make it feel good. It's just for whimsy and fun."


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.