The Abandoned Palace Theater

Most abandoned structures in Gary have been closed since the 1970s, including the former Palace Theater.

Construction on the theater started in 1924, and the building was finished, and open to the public by 1925. The structure was designed by prominent movie palace architect John Eberson, and constructed by Maximillian Dubois’ construction company “Max and Sons.” The company also built the Marquette Park Pavilion in Gary.

The theater was full of life throughout its years, featuring live stage shows, vaudeville acts, and motion pictures. As Gary’s US Steel plant slid into a steep decline, so did most of the town. While the theater was one of the grandest venues in town, it was still difficult for it to keep up during this time, and was eventually closed for good in 1972.

In 1987, private investors had made an attempt to rehab the area. They set out with a plan to invest over $500,000 to renovate the theater and nearby storefronts, but had given up after the first restaurant opened proved unsuccessful.

In 2002, the Miss USA pageant was held in Gary. During the event, Donald Trump decided to renovate the front of the theater using sheets of plywood to cover the windows. The plywood was painted to depict a false interior, and a marquee was mounted outside the front. The marquee then read “Jackson Five Tonite.” In 2009, after Michael Jackson’s death, plastic signs reading “Jackson Five Forever” were placed on both sides of the marquee.


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