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Visitors can explore abandoned buildings in Gary Preservation Tour

A guide takes visitors on a past Gary Preservation Tour, which returns Saturday.

Last summer, scores of visitors from across the greater Chicago area flocked to downtown Gary to poke their heads in abandoned buildings and learn about historic architecture that was built in the Steel City, often more than a century ago.

On Saturday, the Gary Preservation Tour returns for a second year.

Visitors can see and learn about a dozen historic buildings, including the Gary State Bank building, the abandoned post office and city hall, which will be opened to the public for the annual tour. People can go on self-guided tours in an open house format from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. or go on guided tours that will take place throughout the day.

Sightseers can check out architectural gems like the City Methodist Church, Union Station or the Heat Light Water Building, which won't be open but where artists will be creating an art piece outside with salvaged materials from the long-defunct Glen Park Tile. Docents will be on hand at each site to explain the history, architectural points of interest and more.

"Gary and Northwest Indiana often overlook Gary's history, and we're looking to bring that topic back to life," said Robyn Robb, an AmeriCorps Vista with the Gary Redevelopment Commission. "It's about preserving architectural structures, protecting history and hopefully inspiring reinvestment into the community."

There will be a second Gary Open House on July 14 that will be expanded beyond the confines of downtown to sites in Horace Mann and Morningside neighborhoods, which will be accessible by shuttle.

Visitors Saturday should go to the starting point at 504 Broadway, where they will be given a map and literature. They're encouraged to wear walking shoes with closed toes because they will be entering abandoned buildings.

The event is free and open to the public.

Anyone interested in a guided tour must register online because space is limited.

To register or for more information, visit facebook.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.