Looking back: Tamarack time capsule opened
By Sue Ellen Ross Post-Tribune correspondent May 18, 2012 2:58PM
Indiana University Northwest Chancellor William J. Lowe welcomes the guests to the opening of the Tamarack time capsule at the Moraine Student Center in Gary, Ind., Thursday, May 10, 2012. | Jim Karczewski~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 29, 2012 9:40AM
The metal box was very small, about the size of a cigar box, but its contents held a wealth of memories and historical information about Tamarack Hall, the first structure built on the campus of Indiana University Northwest.
The 50-year-old time capsule was recently opened at a ceremony in the Moraine Center, with one of the faculty members who was there when the cornerstone was buried in attendance.
“I don’t even remember what’s in there, even though I was present,” said John Buhner, former director of the Gary Center — the campus’ previous name — and former IUN dean and acting chancellor, “but my sons remembered some kind of paper that people had signed.”
Indeed, of the items uncovered, one was a long scroll that contained names of those involved in the construction of Tamarack Hall in 1958.
Tamarack was the first building on campus, and the school’s only building for 10 years.
It was the hub of activity then, with a theater program that enjoyed an ornate Tamarack Hall Theater. Classrooms, offices, a library and other departments also were located there through the years.
Extensive damage caused by the flooding of the Little Calumet River in 2008 prompted the closing of the building. Demolition was recently completed.
More than 150 people attended the ceremony, including current and former students and faculty.
“It will be interesting to see what’s inside, what they valued at the time,” said IUN professor Paul Blohn of the School of Education before the program began. “This capsule speaks to the longevity of the university and the importance of the education still in evidence here.”
Former IUN student Mariette Harris agrees.
“I came here in the 1970s, and boy how it’s grown!” the Gary resident said “As a girl, I always looked at higher education for my key to a better life, but there weren’t that many opportunities in this area.”
Reminiscing about her years on campus, Harris said that no one had an inkling of what was to come in terms of campus expansion.
“We were just so happy that the college was here. My parents (and I) were glad I didn’t have to go far away from home for my education.”
A presentation by IUN students Melissa Grish and Kelly Clemens, “A Green Space for Tamarack,” outlined their proposal on how to utilize the space left by the building’s demolition.
“Landscaping is a must — grass, trees, and native plants,” Grish said of the 22,000 square-foot area. “And we will direct water buildup with plant life.”
“We’ve also added a pavilion built with a corrugated metal roof, steel beams and a concrete base,” Clemens said. “This pavilion could be used in various ways — outdoor workshops, for example.”
In addition to the scroll, other items found in the capsule were a Gary Center of Indiana University 54-page catalog, an index card written by staff member Ruth Nelson, a proposal for financial assistance to build Tamarack Hall, minutes of a 1955 university Board of Trustees meeting to support establishing the campus, a document transferring the land from the Gary Parks Department, and 1957 pictures of the groundbreaking, as well as other pictures and news stories from the Post-Tribune.
In 2011, Indiana University proposed to the Indiana Commission for Higher Education a plan for the replacement of Tamarack Hall. This plan calls for the construction, in collaboration with Ivy Tech Community College, of a 106,065-square-foot building to be located on the east side of Broadway at 35th Avenue.
The ICHE has not yet voted on the proposal.