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Abandoned Structures of

Gary, Indiana

Ambassador and Mahencha Apartments

Pictures by Barbara Seibert

How sad that, in this era of supposedly widespread homelessness, spacious apartment buildings like these should lie vacant.


Mahencha Apartments

Some time ago, the author of this website received the following email:

I just recently became interested in the beautiful buildings in Gary, and have spent hours driving around looking at them. There is a lovely old apt building on the corner of 5th Ave and Arthur Street that I spent about an hour looking at yesterday, too. This building is falling apart and seemed to beg me to stop and take a look. From the outside it looks like perhaps 35-40 units with all the windows broken. The beautiful tile roof now falling into the forth floor. The buildings around it are still well maintained but this poor baby has been left to the elements.

I've enjoyed every minute that I've spent looking through your web site. I surely hope others will, too. The past couple days I've been trying to imagine what I can do... I understand there are some plans for the Methodist Church.

This email was from Barbara Seibert, a nurse from the Chicago Suburbs, who has taken an active interest in Gary, Indiana and its people. She is the founder of Live Up Art, Inc., located in Gary.

The building Barbara was referring to was the Mahencha Building at 1900 W. 5th Ave. This 31-unit building is on the northwest corner of Fifth Avenue and Arthur St., across from Horace Mann high-school. Former Gary Mayor Richard G. Hatcher owned this building, and at least for a time, owed $20,923 in back taxes on it, according to an Oct 1990 Post Tribune article. The building is vacant and boarded up. Broken glass and bottles litter the grounds. Hatcher had purchased the property in 1978.

It is an imposing building, clad in red brick with white terra cotta trim, canvas awnings (at one time) and wrought iron balconies. It is asymmetrical with a tower-like structure off on one side.

A Crown Point architect says it is a combination of styles. The curved, red clay roof tiles show a southwest influence and the low-pitched hipped roof, square tower and center stairway with an "eyebrow" above it are some elements of the Italianate style.

At the time of the Oct 1990 article, there was a public protest about the building, but as is usual with Gary, nothing was done about it--Hatcher claimed it would cost over $1 million to renovate it. At the time of the article it was being used as a dope den, trash dumpster and flophouse for the homeless. Very sad.

Gary, Indiana - Mahencha Apartment

Mahencha Building

1900 W. 5th Ave.

Gary, Indiana - Mahencha Apartment


Gary, Indiana - Mahencha Apartment

Gary, Indiana - Mahencha Apartment


Gary, Indiana - Mahencha Apartment

Gary, Indiana - Mahencha Apartment courtyard

Former courtyard of Mahencha.

Ambassador Apartments

Wrote Barbara Seibert, who took these pictures:

Yesterday, I discovered another old abandoned apt bldg. This one is (now I don't recall the exact location). It's on 6th and several blocks east of Methodist Hosp. Quite close to the Water Tower. It's an 8 story structure and all of its windows are broken too. Looks like it was once a very grand building. As a matter of fact it still looks grand.

The Ambassador apartments were constructed in 1927 for newly arrived U.S. steel managers.

The building has been the subject of more than one failed attempt at rehabilitation since then. It was in apparently occupied and in reasonably good condition up until 1985. In 1993, the Jefferson Park Community Development Corporation attempted to raise $4.3 million for rehabilitation as apartments for lower and middle income senior citizens. A neighborhood cleanup that year collected thousands of pounds of trash. The building was to have 78 units for single and married seniors. Florida firm Ocwen Financial Corp. was to provide $3.2 million from tax credits, the city of Gary providing $900,000, and the rest of the project mortgaged. The renovation was to be an anchor for a renaissance for the entire neighborhood.

The groundbreaking for the renovation came in 1995, by which time the estimated cost for renovations had ballooned to $5.5 million. Workers began "demolishing the interior" that year, according to a Dec. 30, 1995 Post-Tribune article titled "Ambassador to open in a year." It is not known why this project fell through, and the building remains shuttered and deteriorating to this day.

Writes Barb:

The Ambassador.... now is owned by someone in Chicago. They are behind in the taxes about $300,000. The lady at the tax office said it will probably go to a tax sale in Feb. The FBI is still investigating. I've heard lots of stories about the non-developement but I'm trying to get it substantiated. It does appear they didn't receive much money to rehab it. Because there was a lot of disagreement between the developers and the whole thing fell through.

Gary, Indiana Ambassador Apartment Building

The Ambassador
574 Monroe St.
Renaissance Revival
William Stern Architect


Gary, Indiana Ambassador Apartment Building entrance

Entrance to the Ambassador stands wide open.


Gary, Indiana Ambassador Apartment Building masonry

Notice the holes developing in the masonry of the structure.


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