Brief History
Directions to Marktown
Driving Tour
Walking Tour
Things to look for...
Std. House Designs
Tour Map

Preservation Society
405 Prospect Street
East Chicago, Indiana 46312
Paul Myers, Preservationist
Tel. (219) 397-2239
Fax (219) 397-3130
Call for information
or to request a tour.

The Mark Town Site was built in 1917 by Chicago Industrialist Clayton Mark Sr. and was designed to be used as housing for his rapidly expanding Indiana Harbor Works of the Mark Manufacturing Company of Evanston, Illinois. The Mark Manufacturing Company was a leading producer of well points used across the nation for both industrial and residential applications. Mark purchased the property for the steel mill and the housing development in 1913 and immediately began plans for the community.

Mark hired Chicago architect Howard Van Doren Shaw to design the model town. Shaw had been hired by the Mark family several years earlier to design Clayton Mark's father's home in Evanston, Illinois and his own estate in Lake Forest in 1913. The original plan for Marktown was to include housing for more than 8,000 workers and supervisors. It was to feature a Market Square similar in concept to that designed by Shaw in Lake Forest, Illinois. It was also to include a major Post Office, a grade school, a senior high school, a theater building, a recreational center and an expansive park that would serve as a buffer between the community and the nearby industry. The original plan was to cover more than 20 acres of land.




Market Square Fountain (now removed)

During World War I, the U.S. Government took over the newly built steel facility at Indiana Harbor and produced armor plate for the war effort. At the conclusion of the War, Clayton Mark was left with an enormous unmarketable amount of government refuse. At that particular time in our Nation's history, the government was not required to honor their contract for the materials ordered. In 1923, Clayton Mark sold Indiana Harbor Works to the Youngstown Sheet and Tube Company of Youngstown, Ohio. At the time of the sale only four of the thirty-two original sections of the community were built. This included three commercial buildings, three supervisor homes, and 97 white stucco buildings which divided into single, duplex and quad structures. This provided nearly two hundred separate houses in five floor plans and eleven various exterior elevations.

What makes the Marktown Historic District so unique is the concept and execution of the plan itself. The town was based upon the Garden City Concept of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The closeness of the buildings provides a sense of community seldom found in neighborhoods today. Several Marktown families have lived in the community since its inception and have had four and five generations living in the community at one time.

It should be noted that all of the houses that were built in 1917 are still standing today and are all fully restorable.

In 1975 the community and the City of East Chicago placed Marktown on the National Register of Historic Places. The National Register nomination states "...Marktown presents a living lesson in history and culture from the pioneer growth period of the Calumet Region. This region, which is America's industrial heartland, is quite young compared to other great regions of this nation. Sometimes in such areas the concern for history is lost. But here there is the opportunity to preserve the Marktown community as a living and useful landmark of genuine architectural and cultural significance for the Calumet Region, the State and the Country. The Marktown area is an important cultural resource which should be restored to accurately present the intentions of the original design.



Directions to Marktown

   The Marktown Historic District is located in the City of East Chicago, Indiana just 1/2 mile south of the shore of Lake Michigan and only three miles east of the Indiana/Illinois border. It is surrounded by ISG (formerly LTV Steel) on three sides and by BP (formerly Amoco) Oil Refinery of Whiting, Indiana on the fourth side.

Map of 405 Prospect St
East Chicago, IN 46312-1626

Directions to 405 Prospect St
East Chicago, IN 46312-1626
From Chicago and
Northwestern Illinois
From the
South and Western
Suburbs of Chicago
From Indiana

1. South US 90/94 to Dan Ryan Expressway
2. To US 90 The Chicago Skyway Bridge
3. Skyway Bridge to the Indiana Toll Road
4. Indiana Toll Road to Cline Avenue
5. Exit South on Cline Avenue
6. Cline Avenue South to the Riley Rd. Exit
7. Right onto Riley Road
8. 1/4 mile to Pine Avenue
9. Enter Marktown
- Driving Tour Begins Here

1. US 80/94 east to Cline Avenue
2. Cline Avenue north to the Riley Road Exit
3. Right onto Riley Road
4. 1/4 mile to the Pine Avenue
5. Enter Marktown
- Driving Tour Begins Here

1. US 80/94 to Cline Avenue
2. Cline Avenue north to the Riley Road Exit
3. Right onto Riley Road
4. 1/4 mile to the Pine Avenue
5. Enter Marktown
- Driving Tour Begins Here



Walking and Driving Tours

The following information is provided, along with the map, for those who would like to visit the community. Guided tours are available by appointment only. Please contact Paul Myers at (219) 397-2239. Or write to us at 405 Prospect Street, East Chicago, Indiana 46312. There is generally not a charge for individual or group tours, but plans must be made in advance.
A Note To Tour Guests: As you walk through the Marktown Historic District, please note that
the town is not a museum, but an active residential community.

Driving Tour of Marktown

A. Marktown Center and Parks. The area to your right was part of the park system that was integral with the original design of the neighborhood by Howard Van Doren Shaw. Research shows that the original park located here was designed by Landscape Architect Jens Jensen of Highland Park, Illinois. Shaw and Jensen worked together on a number of projects during their careers.
    Where the large covered pavilion now stands was once a bath house and wading pool. At the opposite end of the park is one of two original school buildings. It is not known if Shaw had a hand in the design of the schools, but it is known that they were owned by the Manufacturing Company and were not turned over to the city until 1923.
    The park on your left was added in 1955 with the expansion of Youngstown Sheet and Tube Company's No. 2 Tin Mill. This 12 acre park was redeveloped by the City of East Chicago in the 1970's and provides a well maintained park for the residents of the community.
B. Supervisors Homes with garages. The entire 400 block of Broad Street was to have had a total of eight supervisor homes. Only three were ever built. Each home has a formal foyer, a large living room with a gas fireplace, solarium, dining room and large kitchen on the first floor, with three bedrooms and a bath on the second floor. They were each built with a detached garage and were separated from the worker homes by the brick garden wall that can still be seen today.
    It should be noted that the Professor Homes at Lake Forest College, in Lake Forest, Illinois were designed by Howard Shaw the year preceding Marktown and are of a similar design.
C. Market Square. Based upon Shaw's Lake Forest Market Square, the Marktown Square was to have two main buildings with more than thirty shops and apartments (second floor). A recreation center and theater building were also to have been built. All of this was designed to focus around a sunken fountain park in the center of the community. Only this one, four store and apartment building was ever built. The original fountain and square were removed in 1936 to allow an improved traffic flow.
 D. Garage Building. Now the home of George Michel's Bar and Grill, the original garage building was managed for many years by Mr. Muldoon. The company owned busses were maintained and stored in the building. Along with the company vehicles, Marktown residents were permitted to rent garage space for the storage of their private automobiles.
E. Boarding House. The original plans called for two boarding houses to have been built on this double block lot. One was to have been built for women, and the other for men. Only this one forty room boarding house was ever built. Each wing and each floor contains ten rooms with public wash facilities located at the end of each hall. The first floor center contains a lobby, large dining room with a fireplace and the kitchen. The second floor center contains a large lobby, a raised ball room and a five room apartment for the boarding house manager.
F. Parking for the Walking Tour. Please park your car on Pine Avenue near Prospect Street.
The office of the Marktown Preservation Society is located at a private residence at 405 Prospect Street.
While we do not have regular hours, please feel free to knock on the door, we will be more than glad to serve you if we are available.


Walking Tour of Marktown

1. Prospect Street. This is a typical street design with one of the most varied exterior elevations found in Marktown. Each building on the left side of the street is a duplex. Starting with the first duplex, every other building is a six room duplex. Please note that all three roof variations of the six room styles are used on this block. The first being a standard hip roof, the second a yard gable roof and the third being a street gable roof. The second, fourth and sixth buildings are seven room duplexes and can be noted by the four window openings at the street level. Originally, all of the seven room duplex buildings had iron window boxes on the second floor street elevation.
   On the right side of the street we begin with a six room duplex (street gable.) The next building is a Marktown Quad. The third building is a six room duplex (hip roof) and the fourth building is a four room duplex with a yard gable roof.
   The quad building in the center of the block has a four room unit on each end and a pair of five room units in the center. Each is divided from the other by an 18" fire wall, and each is a separately titled property. The Marktown Quad was designed after Howard Shaw's own home in Lake Forest, Illinois - Ragdale which was built in 1897.
 2. Liberty Street (500 block). As you begin down Liberty Street, please note the human scale of the street in relation to the homes. Only 32 feet separate the houses on either side of the street. The first and last houses on the right are six room single houses, and the last house on the left is a four room duplex. The remaining houses are various exterior elevations of the six room duplex. Please note the various roof elevations.
 3. Oak Avenue. The longest residential street in the community, you will note that all of the houses on the left side are of the six room duplex design using all three exterior elevations. On the right side you will note that the houses were designed for the side streets that empty onto Oak Avenue. Shaw was very concerned with vistas. All of the streets that end on Oak Avenue have a house centered on the street so that anyone traveling towards Oak Avenue will see the street end with a properly placed facade of a home.
 4. Grove Street (500 block). As you enter this block please note that the houses on the right are all of the six room duplex design while those on the left are of the four room duplex design using all three roof elevations on each side of the street. As you pass the first house on your left, please look through to the next street where you can clearly see one of the original garden wall fences that were to have been used in the entire community. Only two were ever built. Since the houses on both sides of the street are set on 40' X 40' lots, the yards on the left are considerably larger due to the smaller four room houses.
 5. Grove Street (400 block). On the left you will note once again a Marktown Quad. The entire block area to your left has five of the eight Quad buildings in the community. Note that the buildings are staggered to permit an open space between each house.

Things to Look For in Marktown 

 The ways in which the house designs and elevations were mixed in order to enhance the appearance of each street and make it unique unto the overall plan of the community. It should be noted that Marktown was listed in "Ripley's Believe it or Not!" as "A community in Indiana with narrow streets patterned after towns in Switzerland. Parks its cars on the sidewalks - and the people walk in the roadway." The reference to Switzerland has never been proven. In fact, the concept for the layout of Marktown is documented to have been rural England.

The feeling of closeness between each house and the neighboring property and the relationship of the houses from one side of the street to the other.

The various building designs and exterior elevations.


The Standard House Design

There are only five basic floor plans used for the Marktown worker homes, however, three of the plans have alternative exterior elevations.
1. The Marktown Quad.
Designed after Howard Shaw's own residence in Lake Forest, "Ragdale" the Quad offers two-four room houses (one at each end) and two five room houses (at the center). The four room houses provide a living room and large kitchen on the first floor, and two bedrooms and a bath on the second floor. The five room units in the center each have a foyer, living room, dining room and small kitchen on the first floor, and two bed rooms and a bath on the second floor.
2. The Seven Room Duplex.
Originally designed as an in-town-boarding house, the first floor has a living room, dining room, large kitchen and a first floor bedroom for the host family. Three large bedrooms and a bath on the second floor were provided for the boarders. It is not believed that any of the seven room duplexes were ever officially used as boarding houses. The roof design on this structure is always a hip roof and the house is the only structure designed with wrought iron window box hangers on the second floor.
3. Six-Room Duplex.
Each side of the six room duplex has a large living room, dining room and kitchen on the first floor with three bedrooms and a bath on the second floor. They were provided with three exterior elevations based primarily upon the roof elevation:
A. Street gable roof - gable end faces the street
B. Yard Gable roof - gable end faces the yard
C. Hip roof.
4. Four-Room Duplex.
Each of the four room duplexes has a foyer, living room and large kitchen on the first floor and two bedrooms and a bath on the second floor. As with the six room duplex, they were provided with three exterior elevations:
A. Street gable roof - gable end faces the street
B. Yard Gable roof - gable end faces the yard
C. Hip roof.
5. Six Room Single Cottage.
Based on an award winning 1902 House Beautiful design, the six room single houses had a modest living room, dining room and kitchen on the first floor and three bed rooms and a bath on the second floor. They were varied in floor plan and exterior design in the following three ways:
A. Hip roof with left side living room.
B. Gable roof with left side living room
C. Gable roof with right side living room

Marktown Historic District
Walking and Driving Tour Map