Monday, April 9, 2012

Desire To Raze The Sanctuary That Was Tamarack Hall

There isn’t a lot to say about John Bellairs’s teaching days in Gary, Indiana, which occurred now over half a century ago. What little we’ve heard paints a pretty comical portrait of a brand-spanking new teacher taking his first steps in the world of academia.

There was one other new thing when Bellairs first stepped foot on the Indiana University Extension campus in September 1960: Tamarack Hall. Constructed over a two-year period at a cost of $2.4 Million, Tamarack Hall was the first building on campus and the only building on campus for the school's first decade. Over 50 years later Tamarack is being demolished, having been ruined and subsequently closed since sustaining extensive flood damage back in September 2008.

Built on 27 acres in 1959, the Calumet Regional Archives wiki notes some of what was originally housed within Tamarack: "all campus facilities—classrooms, science labs, administrative and faculty offices, the library, students lounge, snack bar, bookstore, lounges, lobby and a 600-seat auditorium with dressing rooms, scene shop and rehearsal areas." A 65,000-square-foot addition was added in the mid-1960s to the building that has seen its fair share of names.

When John was on campus he would have known it as either the Gary Center or Gary Main. Later it was simply known as Building A. But if you're like us you've probably wondered what sort of name Tamarack is. Well, it's a tree. In the 1970s the idea to rename IU Gary buildings after trees meant that Building A was henceforth named after an American larch.

Demolition began in January and is expected to be complete by May, with the area becoming a landscaped green space.

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