The story of one abandoned movie theater is the story of this very post-industrial city. People haunt places, and places haunt people.

The Palace Theater in Gary, IN.
The Palace Theater in Gary, IN.


Ghosts of Gary is an exploration of Gary, Indiana’s semi-abandoned downtown and historic past. Dorothy, a non-Indiana native, stumbles into Gary on a road trip and sees the remnants of its once vibrant downtown. Among the shuttered buildings is the stately Palace movie theater, long-closed. But how long closed? Has it been closed since the Jackson Five, still advertised on the theater’s marquee, were last together? Has Gary’s downtown been a ghost town that long?

With the help of some life-long Gary residents, an urban explorer, and an investigative journalist, Ghosts of Gary unravels the mystery of the Palace Theater and how long it has been closed. On the way the story touches upon John Dillinger’s escape from the Crown Point jail, the subbasements of Broadway Avenue and the economic exploits of Donald Trump.

The individual stories and interviews in this series originally aired on as part of several different live broadcasts between June and October of 2007. Production by Robin Amer. Additional production of title segment by Adam Yoffe and Tom Herman. Music by Mudboy and Black Forest/Black Sea. Voices, in order are: Dorothy Fennell, Laura Jones, Mr. Matthews, Eugene Pawlak, “Syd,” and Steve Walsh. Above photo by Dorothy Fennell.

Ghosts of Gary won Best Radio Documentary 2007 from the Indiana chapter of the Society for Professional Journalists. It was also nominated for a Peter Lisagor Award from the Chicago Headline Club in the Radio Documentary category.

Lease Ghosts of Gary for broadcast through the Public Radio Exchange (PRX).