Opened in 1926 at a cost of $1 million, the City Methodist Church in Gary, Indiana, has stood abandoned for 33 years. Once boasting a congregation of 3,000 worshipers and able to seat 950 at a time, the fortunes of the magnificent Gothic Revival structure mirror those of the town in which it’s situated – a booming steel centre during the early to mid 20th century, but one that fell into major decline as U.S. Steel employment dwindled during the 1960s.
City Methodist took 21 months to complete, paid for in part by U.S. Steel Corporation which also founded the city of Gary. Alongside the church was a thousand seat auditorium called Seaman Hall, a gymnasium, and shops designed in part to help cover the building’s enormous maintenance costs.
At a time of strict racial segregation in the United States, Gary’s City Methodist Church welcomed black worshippers during the 1920s, in a bid to defy the power of the Ku Klux Klan. But as employment declined and crime and poverty increased, the church’s congregation dwindled to just 300 by 1975. Five years later, in 1980, City Methodist was abandoned completely, and was badly damaged by fire in 1997.
With its roof collapsing and foliage swiftly reclaiming its outside walls, it’s no wonder that City Methodist and other grand structures in Gary have become stalwarts of urban exploration articles and abandoned church lists. In 2009 the structure was used in the filming of a remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street. But how much longer it will stand in decay remains uncertain.