The Top Ten Landmarks of Whiting-Robertsdale

A landmark is an attractive building or structure, interesting to look at. It is also something we all recognize. The Washington Monument is a landmark in our national’s capitol; the Golden Gate Bridge is a landmark in San Francisco; the Eiffel Tower in Paris; to name a few.

While Whiting doesn’t have any structures as well known as those examples, it does have attractive buildings which we all recognize. They are the kind of buildings you show your out-of-town friends if you give them a tour of Whiting-Robertsdale, or the kind which strangers notice.

We’ve posted an article on this website about one local landmark: The bank building on the northwest corner of 119th and New York Avenue. Does it make your list of Whiting-Robertsdale Landmarks? I jotted down my top ten landmarks. These are buildings which I would miss if they were gone. They are buildings which I think make the community more interesting and appealing, and which would change the personality of our community if they were gone.

We lost a few landmarks in recent years, such as Immaculate Conception Church, the Illiana Hotel, and the Central State Bank Building. Here’s my list of Whiting-Robertsdale landmarks. Long may they stand..

The Whiting Public Library was an attractive building when it was built in 1906, even before the landscaping around it matured and added to its beauty.

1.            Whiting Public Library
Notice the beauty of the arch over the front door of the library. It’s just one of many interesting features to see in this building. Whiting was fortunate to receive this Carnegie library in the early 1900s, and is fortunate that it still stands. While other cities have long torn down their old libraries, or converted them to other uses, it’s a tribute to Whiting and its people that this beautiful building still stands, and is still the city’s library.

The Whiting Community Center.

2.            Community Center
If you ever have a chance to see the auditorium inside the Community Center, no longer in use, or the Memorial Room on its second floor, you have to admire what a wonderful gift this building was from Standard Oil to the people of Whiting, and how impressive it must have looked to city residents in the 1920s. Imagine what it would cost to build today. The exterior, with its tiled roof, tells you right away that this is a building which adds to the attractiveness of the community.

Even if the movie is boring, look up and look around inside the theater to appreciate how nice movie houses used to be.

3.            Hoosier Theater
From the outside, it’s not much to see, except for the old-style marquee. Indoors, however, the Hoosier is an excellent example of how grand movie theaters once were. Northwest Indiana once had several theaters in that category in East Chicago, Gary and Hammond. All are gone. Whiting is fortunate that it still has such a beautiful monument to the glory years of motion pictures.

St. John Church, 190-feet tall, has been a Whiting landmark since 1930.

4.            St. John the Baptist Church
The soaring steeple of St. John’s is the most recognizable sight on the modest Whiting-Robertsdale skyline. The church is massive in comparison to many, but as big as it is, notice the little details inside, such as its stained glass windows, the side altars, the saints and others depicted on the wall of high arch over the main altar, and so much more.

St. Mary’s is located across from the Community Center; which is across from the Methodist Church; which is next door to the Masonic Temple; which is next door to the Slovak Dom; which is across the street form the Hoosier Theater. It is a part of downtown Whiting that is rich in local landmarks.

5. St. Mary’s Church
The interior of Byzantine churches are often ornate, and filled with beautiful religious art. St. Mary’s in Whiting is an excellent example, and its interior is probably the most beautiful of any church in Whiting-Robertsdale.

Sacred Heart Church.

6.            Sacred Heart Church
Churches were often built close to the people who worshipped there, making them not only a part of the spiritual lives of its worshippers, but also a part of their neighborhood. St. Peter and Paul was one of those churches, as was Immaculate Conception. Sacred Heart is the last example still standing in Whiting-Robertsdale, and it plays a major role in the attractiveness of its neighborhood.

This photo, taken shortly after the Methodist Church was built. By contrast, the photo below shows the church today, with rich, mature landscaping.

7.            United Methodist Church

There is probably no better example in Whiting-Robertsdale of how much landscaping adds to the beauty of a building. This 1920s brick structure is attractive on its own, but its beauty is brought out even more by the shade of the large trees in front of it, and the garden of flowers and grass around it.

The State Banks of Whiting often used its building as an image in its promotional pieces, as can be seen in this pocket calendar from 1957.

8.            Chase Bank Building
It looks like a bank. At least, it looks like a bank looked in 1914, when it was built. Its classic bank appearance makes it the most interesting financial institution in the city, with American Trust as the runner-up. This bank building on the northwest corner of 119th and New York has been the backdrop for thousands of parades and festivals on Whiting’s main street. It would be hard to imagine downtown Whiting without it.

One of the things that makes the Masonic Temple interesting, is the angle at which it is built. While the front faces the street, the sides extend along the alley, and along the opposite side, giving it an almost pie-shaped appearance.

9.            Masonic Temple
The dark brick of the Masonic Temple fits perfectly with the adjacent Methodist Church and Slovak Dom, as well as the Community Center across the street, making this little section of Whiting, one of the most attractive in the city.

This is how the Slovak Dom looked before the second floor was removed. Numerous wedding receptions and other Slovak parties and meetings were held upstairs. Before any other gymnasium was built in town, basketball games were also played here.

10.          Slovak Dom
It was a much more attractive building before they removed the second floor. It still makes my list, though, in part because of its central role in the history of Whiting’s Slovak population, the largest ethnic group to settle in a multi-ethnic city.

I left off the list several places that are still significant local landmarks, such as the Schrage Mansion, Whiting City Hall, St. Adalbert’s, and the Whiting Post Office. Then there are the schools: Whiting High School, Clark High School, St. John School, and even Calumet College. A case could also be made for some of the houses and residential areas in the community, such as the Humphrey House at 117th and Central, the bungalows down Davis Avenue, the row of Standard Oil Company built houses on Ohio Avenue. Several newer structures could certainly make the list over time, such as the Mascot Hall of Fame building, the Lost Marsh Club House, the Pavilion at Wolf Lake, and Oil City Stadium.

 In the end, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Your list may differ from mine in how you rank your favorite buildings. Share your ideas with us, if you wish.