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Gary's North Gleason Park Pavilion

Saving North Gleason Park Pavilion

Contributed By:The 411 News

Indiana Landmarks wants to hear residents' memories of historic building

It’s not ready for the wrecking ball yet, Gary’s North Gleason Park Pavilion. In the center of the city and only a few blocks off Broadway on west 30th Avenue, this relic of the city’s past still stands, hidden from view by the tall grasses of the wetlands surrounding it.

Its location in the Calumet River’s flood plain was not an ideal place for a park says Brad Miller of Indiana Landmarks’ Gary office and one of the presenters at the August 22 “Conversation on the Past & Future of North Gleason Park Pavilion.” The community is invited to learn more about this historic building and efforts to save it.

“There’s no threat of losing it to demolition. The roof is leaking and the Gary Parks Dept. wants to repair it,” Miller said.

The public will hear the history of the park and a presentation from the Calumet Artist Residency, taking its name from the Calumet River which defines and influences a large part of northwest Indiana. “We especially want to get residents to come and share their memories; they are the ones who used the park. News clippings can only tell so much,” Miller said. “And we want their input on how they think the pavilion should be used.”

In his essay for Indiana Landmarks, Rescue Needed for Gary’s North Gleason Park Pavilion, Miller tells the story of the origin of Gleason Park. In 1930s Gary, segregation determined separate parks were needed for blacks and whites. North Gleason became the park for blacks and South Gleason for whites. The park got its name from U.S. Steel Superintendent and park board president William P. Gleason.

Miller wrote, “Its funding never equaled that of South Gleason. The park offered athletic fields, clay tennis courts, an outdoor swimming pool, playground, picnic pavilions, and a walking path. Gary’s African American citizens embraced the space as their own.

“A recreation hub in Gary for more than 70 years, the historic North Gleason Park Pavilion served as a golf course clubhouse, dance hall, classroom, and most recently a training center for championship boxers. The Pavilion now faces an uncertain future, as its aging roof gives way.”

Anita Allen Harris said going swimming at North Gleason was a favorite childhood memory. “Every hot day of every hot summer, me and my brothers and friends walked across the overpass from Midtown to swim in the pool behind this building. We had so much fun there that I never even realized we were “segregated” but now thinking back... it sure was crowded with only black kids. Nevertheless, one of my fondest childhood memories."

The “Conversation” will be held 6 to 8 p.m., Thursday, August 22 in Room 205 of the Savannah Center at Indiana University Northwest, 3400 Broadway.

Story Posted:08/09/2019

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