IUN reveals new historical marker for Tamarack Hall on Gary campus

By Hannah Reed, Post-Tribune

Kathy Malone said seeing Tamarack Hall demolished in 2012 because of a 2008 flood was heartbreaking, but it had to be done.

Malone, the director of executive administration at Indiana University Northwest, said being part of the planning committee for Thursday’s unveiling for the former building’s new historical marker was special to her — Tamarack Hall was where she began when she started working at the Gary campus nearly 40 years ago.

"It’s very special that we’re able to commemorate the building, such a special place, and the start of the campus at this location," Malone said. "I think it’s a very special occasion, and I think it’s great that we’re able to do it."

The new historical marker sits on campus, between bushels of cream and crimson flowers; in the same place Tamarack Hall was located. The building was the first at IUN, and was dedicated by Indiana University in fall of 1959, when it was then known as Gary Main.

More than 50 people gathered under a white tent Thursday afternoon to listen to several speakers, and eventually see the dedication and unveiling of the marker by Chancellor William J. Lowe, Laila Nawab, president of the Student Government Association and Susan E. Zinner, president of the Faculty Organization.

For Stephen G. McShane, nominating Tamarack for the historical marker, approved by the IU Bicentennial and IU Historical Marker Program, was important for past and future generations.

"I thought it was appropriate that we commemorate Tamarack, since it served as our campus for 10 years — it was the sole, permanent building, and I wanted people to remember that, and I wanted future generations to be aware of that as well," McShane said. "IU, in this spot, 60 years ago, opened Tamarack Hall and made sure that it was not only for academic pursuits, but also for community and cultural pursuits."

Tamarack Hall was well-known throughout Northwest Indiana as the regional center for art, theater, music and academic discussions, Lowe said in his speech.

While the building may be gone, the spirit and legacy of Tamarack Hall continues to live on, not only physically through the new marker, but also through various theatrical and musical performances in the Arts and Sciences building, art exhibits and other campus events, Lowe said.

"As a historian, I try to have in mind that history is about both continuity and change," Lowe said. "The story of Tamarack Hall at IU Northwest demonstrates that as campus community we continue to keep faith with our campus’ found ignition and vision, while embracing new academic and community based demands and opportunities as we look ahead."

James B. Lane, Professor Emeritus of History at IUN, said he was able to go into Tamarack Hall after the flood to retrieve photos for a book he was helping Ramón and Trisha Arredondo with, called "Maria’s Journey."

He said some of the Arredondo family photographs were in his offices in Tamarack, and after some cajoling and begging, he was allowed in his office for 15 minutes to rescue the photographs.

"I remember that part of the building had not been flooded, but there was this gurgling of the water fountain and some really foul smelling stuff coming out of that fountain," he said in his remarks at the ceremony.

Seeing — and smelling — the building while grabbing the photos, however, is not how he remembers Tamarack Hall.

"It was a lively place," he said in his speech. "And one I remember fondly."

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