H. Gordon and Sons Department Store

Commercial / Indiana

H. Gordon and Sons Department Store is an abandoned four-story commercial building at the southeast corner of Broadway and East 8th Avenue in downtown Gary, Indiana. It was originally built for the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks to serve as a lodge.


Maher and Son, headed by architect George Washington Maher, was commissioned in 1923 for the design of the new temple. 1 The original location, at West 6th Avenue and Washington Street, was far too small for the growing city.

Maher designed the building in the Prarie School architectural style. 1 Stone fluted piers adorned the first story, with dark brick walls with large recessed panels framing square piers in antis, each with stylized Corinthian capitals. 2 Within each recessed panel were triple window groups with brick mullions. The first floor contained commercial storefronts while the floors above featured banquet halls, bars, lodge rooms, and offices. 1

The Elks moved out of the building in 1934, which was then remodelled for H. Gordon and Sons department store. 4 H. Gordon and Sons originally opened at 7th Avenue and Broadway in 1923.

H. Gordon and Sons announced on July 14, 1939, that it would close its Whiting store and consolidate it with its downtown Gary location. 3 As part of the move, the company planned to spend $75,000 in adding a fourth floor to its Gary location and remodelling the entire location to add new departments.

In September 1971, the Lake County Welfare Department signed a lease agreement to permit the department to relocate to the H. Gordon and Sons department store annexe’s basement and second floor. 6 It would allow the department to move out of all four floors of the county courthouse. H. Gordon and Sons planned to continue to use the annexe for retail until January 1, 1973.

A year later, on September 1972, H. Gordon and Sons announced that it would close by November 18, citing a declining downtown and a lack of sales. 5

In January 1973, the food stamp offices, supervised by the welfare department, moved into the main floor and basement of the main H. Gordon and Sons building. 6 The county welfare department then began moving into the second, third and fourth floors of the main building and into the first floor of the annexe in February.

Citing a lack of space for its computers, 8 the welfare department, then renamed Division of Family and Children, began looking for larger offices. 7

In early 1993, a $6 million renovation project led by Lakeshore Developers began on the adjoining Sears, Roebuck & Company building. 7 The store, abandoned in 1974, was set to open to the Division of Family and Children in July 1993.

Supplier and financing problems delayed the project by more than five months. 7 A supplier for a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system failed to deliver its components on time. The city and developers also had trouble in finalizing a $1.5 million loan from Bank One because of the bank’s slow processing times.

Financial problems shut down the renovation, then 75% complete, in July 1994. 9 Work restarted a year later and was completed in late 1995. The Division of Family and Children vacated the former H. Gordon and Sons building shortly after. 1 9


Sources

  1. “George W. Maher & Son.” Gary – ‘America’s Magic Industrial City’, 1998. Article.
  2. National Park Service, Department of the Interior. Gary City Center Historic District. By GregoryJenkins and Paul C. Diebold, 6 June 1994.
  3. “Oldest Store to Close Soon.” The Times [Munster], 14 Jul. 1939. p. 20.
  4. “Gordon Store 40 Years Old.” Hammond Times, 2 Jul. 1939.
  5. Connor, Thomas. “Gary Department Store Sets Closing.” Chicago Tribune, 28 Sept. 1972, p. 4A.
  6. “Welfare Moving.” The Times [Munster], 23 Feb. 1973. p. 7.
  7. Falzone, Kris. “Sears project delayed.” The Times [Munster], 26 Sept 1993, p. G1, G3.
  8. Luke, Petra. “Council OKs ownership transfer on Sears building.” The Times [Munster], 9 Sept. 1992. p. B3.
  9. “Native lands.” Chicago Tribune, 1 Oct. 1995. p. 7A.