Illiana Hotel and Hoosier Theater
Shown here is the massive Theater building
behind the apartment and storefronts.
There is a fascinating story behind this building.
It was bought and renovated by Thomas Sinstad, a man with a double
He began as a carpenter foreman but suffered a
back injury while lifting scaffolding. During recovery he turned to
computer programming and became a successful author of software for
Commodore computers. His programs, in fact, became the best selling
software for the platform of all time, according to a Post-Tribune
(Gary, Indiana) article.
While looking for a local printer to produce
documentation for his programs, he found a print shop in this building.
After striking up a friendship with the owner, he was encouraged to buy
up the entire building, which at the time was mostly vacant.
He applied his construction knowledge in
rehabilitating the apartments, 18 months after the occupants had been
asked to leave by authorities because the furnace was no longer
operational. He found the apartments in bad shape due to neglect, but
received $150,000 in federal rehabilitation loans for the project,
through programs administered by the Lake County Community Development
At one time demolishing the theater to make way
for a parking lot was under consideration. Fortunately this was
According to the Post Tribune
article, the Hoosier Theater opened in 1924 and featured top vaudeville
acts. The theater is now the only operating movie palace in Northwest
Indiana. It boasts an ornate interior and a two-story-tall screen.
Theater buildings that also include a hotel or
apartments were not uncommon. They provided a double source of revenue
to the building owners. This building now consists of 10 apartments.
The structure is certified as a historic landmark
by the State Department of Historic Preservation of the Department of