This gallery is from (what is left of) the long abandoned Memorial Auditorium in Gary, Indiana.
The four-story hall and auditorium stood 65 feet tall and featured many ornate architectural flourishes, including double-terraced stone steps, arched entrances and engravings. It hosted Golden Gloves boxing tournaments, an annual citywide music festival, conventions, trade shows and political rallies.
President Harry Truman once delivered a fiery campaign speech at the historic Gary Public Schools Memorial Auditorium, hometown hero and astronaut Frank Borman gave a talk about the space program there. Frank Sinatra performed before a packed house at the Memorial Auditorium. So did The Jackson 5, who won first place in an amateur talent show there.
It closed in 1972. Plans to revive it as a performing arts center, museum or sports hall of fame were floated but never got off the ground. The majority of the hulking brick building had been lost and demolished after a 1997 arson.
The “Great Gary Arson” that rampaged through downtown Gary also damaged the abandoned Goldblatt’s department store, the City Methodist Church and multiple other buildings, leaving some “a heap of twisted metal, bricks and charred wood,” according to The Times archives.
The majority of the building is torn down and what you see here in my photos is just the entryway. It has the stairs that go upstairs, but the rest of the auditorium has been torn down.
Built in 1927 to honour Gary residents killed during World War I, the massive auditorium hosted countless concerts, graduation ceremonies and high school basketball sectionals until it was largely gutted by the arson that swept through downtown Gary in 1997.
The husk that’s left is just a portion of the Italian Renaissance and Spanish Colonial Revival building architect Joseph Wildermuth designed. It has been visited mainly by urban explorers, photographers and graffiti artists in recent years.
The towering brick relic of Gary’s heyday had retained enough grandeur to be one of the focal points of the city’s Gary Preservation Tours over the past two years, and hundreds of photos of its haunting beauty have been posted online.
But now the decaying remains of the grand 92-year-old structure — the facade of which is inscribed with words like “art” and “athletics” — likely will come down.
I had the opportunity to explore and photograph the abandoned Memorial Auditorium in the late winter of 2020 on my annual birthday road trip, this year in Gary, Indiana joined by RiddimRyder and Chris Luckhardt.
The building was small but very interesting and photogenic, lots of great light coming in from all around and a very unique pink baby grand piano in the middle of the hall
Abandoned Memorial Auditorium Gary, Indiana Video
Abandoned Memorial Auditorium Gary, Indiana Photo Gallery