City Methodist Church, Gary, Indiana

Gary, Indiana, is home to a defunct Methodist church once known as City Methodist Church. It was the largest Methodist church in the Midwest, but it closed in 1975 after only 50 years of service. By 1929, William Seaman’s interest in multiculturalism had made him unpopular with his congregation. They sent him to Ohio against his will since they weren’t happy with him there. City Methodist Church is a congregation of over 1,700 people in south Kansas City. We are diverse and welcoming, with ministries for all. His successor, ironically, was even less well received by the congregation. Seaman passed away in 1944. His remains were brought back to Gary and burial in a local church, as per his final desires. To help alleviate financial strain, the church leased out a portion of Seaman Hall to Gary College during the Great Depression.

After World War II, Seaman Hall was used by Indiana University Centre, and by 1949, three floors were taken by Indiana University Northwest. In the 1950s, the church’s membership soared to over 3000, marking its heyday. Since 1906, Gary had been home to a Methodist congregation. It was founded in 1916, and Dr. William Grant Seaman was called to be its pastor that year. City Methodist Church is a family of Christians who are committed to living out their faith in Jesus Christ.

Seaman, a man of boundless vitality, envisioned a much larger church to serve the community with the aim of establishing a visible Christian presence in an area that was notorious for its many saloons and taverns at the time. The city’s largest employer, US Steel, has backed Seaman. The land for the church was donated by the firm, and they also agreed to pay for nearly half of its construction. Construction began in 1925 and lasted for 21 months at a total cost of $800,000. On October 3, 1926, the first church services were held. Elbert Gary, for whom the city is named, provided the organ.

Chicago architects Lowe and Bollenbacher constructed the chapel. The main church was part of a larger nine-story complex that also housed corporate offices, a gymnasium, a Sunday School, and a dining hall in addition to the 1000-seat Seaman Hall theater. A bowling alley was supposed to be constructed. However, it was never really completed. The unfinished hall’s roof garden. City Methodist Church is a vibrant, growing church located in downtown Tacoma. We offer clean, contemporary worship and a caring community of Christians.

City Methodist Church

By 1927, the church had 1,700 members and was employed. After Gary’s fall from grace in the 1960s and 1970s, the church’s fortunes started to fall, too. The church, which had been predominantly white and middle class, lost many members when Gary’s demographics changed and its wealthier residents left. Because of the church’s massive size and the harsh lakefront climate, crime rates in the vicinity spiked, leading to an exodus of residents.

About a third of the 320 members of the then-maturing congregation still attended services regularly in 1973. The church closed in 1975 after unsuccessful efforts to sell the structure to another group. Indiana University took ownership of the building and kept using Seaman Hall as a satellite school, but they did nothing with the church itself. Although the church’s decline had begun in the 1990s, a fire in 1997 caused extensive damage and hastened the process. City Methodist Church provides a welcoming, inclusive, and diverse community in the heart of Rochester. We offer worship, prayerful exploration, meaningful education, joyful celebration and service to all people.

More on Beelitz Heilstätten Hospital, Germany, here

Even though permits are now necessary, the church continues to be a favorite spot for urban explorers and has even hosted Goth weddings in recent years. Gary’s City Methodist Church was originally constructed in 1926 at an astounding total cost of over a million dollars (equivalent to over seven million now), with around half of that amount being contributed by the US Steel Corporation. But the money was out in the open.

The church is a nine-story architectural marvel built in the English Gothic style. Its outside features intricate stonework, innumerable molded arches, towering pillars, and, of course, abundant stained glass (although not TOO much, as many of the windows were simply made of glass to cut costs). The stunning structure could have been plucked out of medieval England and dropped in the middle of Indiana.

The church had served a congregation of about 2,000 people, but as the years went by and Gary’s steel industry declined, the building eventually fell into disrepair. The idea of going to church is usually appealing at the time. Such stunning architecture has the potential to strengthen social bonds and impart a special character to a neighborhood. Naturally, maintaining such a large structure is frequently the first thing to be eliminated when the local economy dries up.

Fortunately, it frequently produces attractive contemporary ruins, such as the City Methodist Church in Gary, Indiana. The pastor anticipated 950 worshippers in the main sanctuary, while 1,000 would be able to attend shows and events in the neighboring Seaman Hall. Construction of the Methodist Church’s new temple took 21 months and 800,000. The work of Lowe and Bollenbacher, architects Seaman Hall also had a big kitchen and eating area, a gymnasium, corporate offices, Sunday school classrooms, and a large fellowship hall with oak paneling. The stage was fully outfitted for professional performances, and the acoustics were superb. Movies may be viewed on a screen as big as a movie theater.

There was a gym for games and activities up on the third floor. Despite its aesthetic appeal, the church building was met with some criticism: Gary was too young to lead the congregation, and the building was too large and expensive in relation to the population of the town. Extremely high ongoing maintenance costs threatened to bankrupt the church for decades. Even before it had its grand inauguration, some were calling it a “Seaman’s folly.” Critics charged that Seaman was erecting a monument to himself by using an ornate design, which they likened to popery. An important local restaurateur delayed the opening of the church’s planned restaurant out of worry that it would affect sales at his establishment, and resentful ministers from other faiths expressed similar concerns.


City Methodist Church is a faith-based, community-focused organization that has been serving the community for over 40 years. Our mission is to provide leadership, guidance, and spiritual growth for those who are seeking God. The reality was that not all of Seaman’s plans would be realized. Seaman Hall’s rooftop garden was never completed, and neither was his dream of a bowling alley.

The cathedral may be lacking some wall and roof sections, but it seems to be in good shape overall. After 80 years, the church was found to be structurally sound. Therefore the city decided to turn it into a ruins garden in 2006. If the city doesn’t have the money to protect the church, then no one will bother them either. A former churchgoer has brought to our attention the fact that William Seaman’s ashes were probably still interred in the church’s main sanctuary.

Leave a Comment