Memorial Auditorium, located in Gary’s downtown, was built in 1927 and for 43 years, it served as the city’s only convention and social center, gymnasium, art gallery, music, and performing arts center. The Auditorium represents Gary’s building boom, when many of the city's most impressive buildings were constructed. The Auditorium provided a central location for learning and social events that city officials enthusiastically supported to showcase the city. The public, especially students, contributed money to help build it. The Gary Land Company, a steel mill subsidiary, donated the land. Named in honor of those who served and died in World War I (1915-1918), it also became the city’s first war memorial.
As the cornerstone for Memorial Auditorium was laid, several large buildings, all within walking distance of each other, opened or began construction on the same day, October 12, 1927. This included the cornerstone for the new City Hall, the formal opening of the new ten story Hotel Gary along with the new 2nd floor home for the Commercial Club, the forerunner to the Chamber of Commerce, and the new building for the local newspaper, the Post-Tribune.
The building of Memorial Auditorium provided a promising start to present Gary, long considered a suburb of Chicago, as a cultured city itself. The gymnasium and auditorium would also support, reinforce, and expand the school curriculum and educational concepts already in place in each school building, especially in music and the arts. Memorial Auditorium hosted sectional and regional basketball tournaments, city-wide music festivals, concerts, performances by nationally known personalities, visits by Presidents and astronauts, and of course, school productions and high school graduations.
Soon after it opened, local African American leaders took immediate actions to squelch what was perceived as segregation in the Auditorium and claimed their rights to the building they helped to build.
In the early 1970s when the school corporation could no longer afford to keep it open, the Auditorium was closed. Efforts made by a private citizen in the early 1990s to revitalize the building were not realized. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places before a fire in 1997 destroyed two-thirds of the building. Until 2020, when it was finally demolished, only the façade stood for passersby to view.