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Miller History


Marquette Park - Miller's little jewel on the lake.


Father Marquette Statue Marquette Park, originally named "Lake Front Park", has a storied past. Long before there was a park at this location it was not only the site of the mouth of the Grand Calumet river, but contained a town laid out first by Joseph Bailly, an early settler in the region. Indiana City remained on the maps for many years, but never had more than a few shacks on it. The land, a swampy wetland, had to be drained by local contractor Gus Strom after it was given to the City of Gary by United States Steel in 1919 for a park. It was a focal point in the controversy surrounding the annexation of Miller by Gary the year before.

A close-up map of the park region on the Chanute Pages shows the original course of the river to the mouth of the Grand Calumet. For years people have believed that the mouth of the river, permanently closed in by US Steel when it built the Gary Works in 1906, was at the west side of the park, but testimony of two 'old timers', Bill Carr and Myron Esmiel, who died at the age of 96 in the late 1970's, puts the mouth at the east side, approximately where Montgomery Street is now. Like the Chicago river mouth, it was a low swampy area which in the dry season would often see lake water flowing into the river rather than out into the lake.

From 1919 until 1932 the park was known Lake Front Park, and the pavilion as Lake Front Park Pavilion. In 1931 W. P. Gleason, the Superintendent of the Gary Steel Works and Superintendent of the Gary Park Department, commissioned Henry Hering of New York create a bronze statue of Father Pere Marquette to be placed at the gateway to the park, which was renamed Marquette Park with the dedication of the statue in July of 1932.

For more about Henry Hering and the B-25 collision with the Empire State Building in 1945, see below.

Views of the park from the air: 

Park Entrance Aerial Picture Aerial shot south along Grand Blvd. Aerial shot of the Pavilion
Park Entrance South - Grand Blvd. Pavilion and lagoon

Marquette Park has been an active place lately. Volunteers raised money and sweat to put in a new playground just east of the bath house, and the bath house has been the site of restoration and renewal over the past few years. In the works for the year 2000 is more work on the bath house and a major overhaul of the roadwork and parking along with, hopefully, some work on the lagoon and the tennis courts

There is more too, on the Playground page and the Aquatorium page, along with some great pictures. Enjoy.

Click here for the Playground Page

Click here for the Aquatorium page.

Marquette Park Pavilion

Erected in 1923-24 on a lagoon in the Grand Calumet River at a cost of $350,000, the building was designed by George W. Maher.  Renovated in 1966, and with recent renovations and painting, the building is still a popular site for all sorts of events, from wedding to civic functions.

Click for a larger image of the Pavilion

Contact the Pavilion office at 219-938-7363 for more information and bookings. Or email

Henry Hering (1874-1949) was a renown American sculptor. 
A search of the Smithsonian Institution's inventory of American Art (a very cool website, BTW) turns up 39 Hering sculptures, among them the Pro Patria in Indianapolis and a number of works at Yale University. The Henry Hering Award is a major award of the National Sculpture Society. Hering was a student of the sculptor, Augustus Saint-Gaudens at the Cornish Art Colony in New Hampshire. It was there he met his wife, Elsie Ward, a fellow sculptor.

So what does the Empire State Building have to do with the Father Marquette Statue in the Park? 

On July 28, 1945 a B-25 smashed into the north side of the building in a dense fog. It hit the 79th floor, plowing into the studio-apartment of Henry Hering, who was up in Scarsdale playing golf. 

(I guess I'd better add that the base of the statue and the building are both constructed of Indiana Limestone...that would be another connection!)