Urban Exploring at a Churchin Gary, Indiana
27 July 2017 | Mri Grout - A Lifelong Vagabond
Urban exploring at the City Methodist Church in Gary, Indiana (as well as three other locations) is legal with a $50 permit per photographer/day (models are supposedly free). This is issued by the city and can be bought by calling their home office at (219) 944-1201.
Built in 1926 at the start of Gary's founding, then abandoned in 1975 not even thirty years later, this City Methodist Church has seen years of harsh decay and so is not for the inexperienced urban explorer. Ceilings have partially collapsed, floors are unstable in a few (if not all) areas, and some places are gone entirely. Not to mention, the church ruins are smack dab in the center of Gary, Indiana (which itself has a fairly cautious don't-stay-after-dark reputation) and the entrances are all overlooked by carparks. However, entering by day is still a possibility for the brash and those that do will be rewarded with amazing views of this urban exploring mecca.
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History of the City Methodist Church
The town of Gary, Indiana was founded in 1906 by the lush attraction of the steel industry. It quickly grew into a town of unseemly reputation with its numerous brothels, gambling dens, and drinking parlors (such as you would expect in a town catered to men) before an envisionist by the name Dr. William Grant Seaman attempted to tame it in 1916. Already a pastor in the original methodist church of Gary, Dr. Seaman approached the US Steel company as a man of God and requested that they help fund his dream of bringing religious order to the town. The US Steel company, the main employer at the time, agreed and donated the land as well as nearly $400,000 to Dr. Seaman's cause.
By the time the City Methodist Church was finished in 1926, a mere 21 months after its construction began, it housed many corporate officies, a gymnasium, dining hall, sunday school, sermon area, and a 1000 seated theatre called Seaman Hall. There were even plans for a bowling alley and a rooftop garden, but for one reason or another neither of these two ideas progressed past the drawing stage.
For three years this place housed a congregation of roughly 1,700 under the ear of Pastor Seaman, but by the time 1929 came around he was chased out to Ohio due to his allowance of cultural diversity. Despite the way his relationship with the City Methodist Church ended, however, he still requested that his ashes be taken back and interred in the church when he died (and they were).
The death of the City Methodist Church came about only twenty odd years after William's due to a failing economy and white, better-off residents fleeing to make their homes elsewhere. Eventually its main doors were closed in 1975, though the Indiana University Centre still made use of the Seaman theatre. However, this too came to an end in 1997 when a fire broke out and the repairs were unaffordable.
Urban Exploring at Gary's Abandoned Church
The abandoned church has three floors, a basement, and a tower in which to go urban exploring in. However, exploring the basement is more than risky and the entrance to the tower definitely isn't for the faint-hearted or physically weak as the ladder eroded away years ago. Now you must climb a rope that was attached by an anonymous urban explorer (our source does not know this person personally and so cannot vouch for the safety of its attachment) that's probably six or seven feet off the nearest ledge (not the floor).
Permission to use the above photos was given to this site only.
Directions to City Methodist Church
The ruins of City Methodist Church are easily viewed from outside of the poorly erected fence and is still worth a stop for those just wanting a peek into the history of Gary, Indiana. It takes about 15 minutes to marvel at from outside the holed and gaping fence and roughly an hour to explore it on the inside.
Free street parking at this urban exploring mecca is available directly across the church. There are also two parking lots on either side of it, both probably free though uncertain for sure.
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