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Dawn Bakken
Indiana Magazine of History

Last modified: Tuesday, September 25, 2012

State history magazine inspects the concrete houses of Gary, Ind.

Sept. 25, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A curious architectural style appeared in Gary, Ind., in 1910. In the September 2012 issue of the Indiana Magazine of History, Christopher Baas looks at Gary's concrete houses, constructed from a single pour of concrete into a series of interlocking metal molds, and touted by builders, factory owners and the media as the home of the future for working-class families.

Gary concrete houses

Concrete terrace houses and cottages under construction in Gary, c. 1911.

Print-Quality Photo

Clean, fire-resistant, easy and cheap to build -- these were the virtues claimed for concrete homes that led the U.S. Sheet and Tin Plate Co., a subsidiary of U.S. Steel, to build a series of such houses and apartment buildings for its workers. As Baas discovers, however, the last house was poured in 1914, when the company decided that traditional frame houses were still cheaper to build.

Elsewhere in the journal, historian Katherine Turk reads the letters sent to Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and the President's Commission on Fair Employment from black women seeking jobs at the Kingsbury ordnance plant in LaPorte County, Ind. During World War II, women flocked to high-paying factory jobs, but African-American women found themselves shut out of many positions, discriminated against in the workplace and vulnerable to dismissal at the whim of their white supervisors. Turk examines how these women fought for their rights through the claims they filed with the president and government agencies.

Finally, political scientist Marjorie Randon Hershey offers a view of the civility and incivility of contemporary politics through the lens of the 2012 Indiana Republican primary for the United States Senate, in which challenger Richard Mourdock defeated longtime Sen. Richard G. Lugar.

The Indiana Magazine of History is published quarterly by the history department in the College of Arts and Sciences at Indiana University Bloomington. For general information on the articles, contact the editorial office at 812-855-4139.