The Heat Light Water Project

The History

What is known as the General Services Building dates from 1926 when it was built as the Gary, Heat, Light and Water Company Warehouse. The building is noted for being designed by George W. Maher.

Maher was one of the most active architects in Gary during the early 20th century. He is credited with the design of numerous notable buildings including Gateway Park, Gary City Hall, Lake County Courthouse, the pavilions in Marquette Park and the Elks Temple Lodge on Broadway. His architectural plans for the General Services Building are also the last to bear his signature and registration before his death.
Aside from the historical significance that the building possesses it also reflects the architectural details that are synonymous with Maher and the Prairie Style movement in Indiana and throughout the Midwest.

Gary’s population has fallen to around 80,000 from nearly 180,000 in the 1960s, leaving at least 12,000 abandoned buildings; some must certainly come down but the Gary Heat, Light & Water warehouse shouldn’t be one of them. The utility company—a U.S. Steel subsidiary—commissioned the noted Chicago firm George W. Maher & Son, to design the building. The steel-framed, precast concrete structure shows U.S. Steel did not skimp during the prosperous 1920s. Exterior ornament includes pilaster capitals, cartouches, spandrel panels, dentils, and massive exterior lantern-like light fixtures. The structurally sound building retains original terrazzo floors, plaster details, wood moldings, and a semi-elliptical staircase. The city’s general services department occupied the building for many years but abandoned it more than a decade ago. In 2012 the city declared the building blighted, and targeted it for demolition, but it’s sturdy and adaptable to new uses.-