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Endangered Buildings of Northwest Indiana

Architecturally significant buildings in danger of being lost through negligence or indifference

Marktown in Danger

Is this the end of historic Marktown?

The tiny, one-of-a-kind East Chicago Indiana neighborhood was designed by noted architect Howard Van Doren Shaw a model industrial community to house Mark Manufacturing Company employees in 1917.

But now, nearly a dozen of the iconic houses in the neighborhood have been bought up by BP, most of them along Oak Street, likely in order to build a parking lot.

The loss of such a large tract of homes could be a crushing blow for the struggling neighborhood, which is already tiny and is fenced in by BP, ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor and US Steel’s East Chicago tin plant.

Remaining residents would lose the Oak Street buffer between themselves and the sprawling oil refineries within just a stone’s throw of the neighborhood. Plus, demolitions would set an ugly precedent for the future, particularly considering that BP would like to continue buying up as many Marktown homes from existing residents as possible.

East Chicago seems to have plenty of money for building new residences (billboards, in fact, brag about how they are building a "new East Chicago”), but apparently there is no money to restore and preserve remaining historic landmarks. This is indicative of the throwaway society in which we live.

As Marktown resident and precinct committeewoman Kim Rodriguez has said, quoted in the Post-Tribune newspaper, “We can’t make people leave. BP is waiting for the last homeowner to sell.  How dare they try to take it away from us? It angers me that they can do what they want to people."

East Chicago councilwoman Myra Maldano would like to stave off the demolitions and has been meeting with other council members for ways to do so. We wish her the best of luck.

I journeyed to Marktown on May 4, the day before the residences were originally slated for demolition and tried to document as many of the threatened structures as possible in nearly 100 photographs, a few of which are here and the rest of which I plan to post to Flickr.


On the National Register of Historic Places, the community features narrow streets and English cottage style houses, duplexes and apartments. The neighborhood was featured in a Ripley's Believe It Or Not strip due to the curious fact that residents park on the sidewalks and walk in the streets. 

3020 Riley

Most or all the houses slated for demolition are still highly restorable if action is taken quickly enough. Unfortunately, recognition by the national register does not prevent demolitions.

3014 Oak

3012 Oak

3012 Oak Rear

3005 Neighbor Rear

3005 and Neighbor

516 - 518 Oak

514 516 Oak

513 Oak

512 - 516 Riley (bounded by Oak, Riley and Lilac streets)

Houses slated for demolition have been marked by the BP demolition crew.

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