In January 1950, a young couple named Joe and Katherine Jackson bought a two-bedroom house in Gary, Indiana.
The small white house looks like others in the neighborhood, wrapped in aluminum siding and surrounded by tidy trimmed hedges. Except in this front yard stands a memorial to Michael Jackson, who grew up in the home.
Crain’s Chicago Business real estate reporter Dennis Rodkin took Morning Shift on a tour of 2300 Jackson St. and the other unofficial Jackson 5 landmarks throughout Gary as part of our What’s That Building segment.
Two schools that were home to early performances
Two blocks north of the home is the former Garrett Elementary School, which is believed to be the first place Michael Jackson performed outside the family home. Rodkin said he was 5 years old and sang “Climb Every Mountain” from The Sound of Music.
At what was once called Theodore Roosevelt High School (above), just west of the Jackson house, the Jackson Brothers (then a five member group that included 8-year-old Michael) won a talent show singing “My Girl,” by the Temptations.
The first place the Jacksons performed professionally: Mr. Lucky’s Lounge
Today, Mr. Lucky’s Lounge is falling apart. Six years ago, a group that owned the building announced plans to create a monument to the Jacksons there, but that has yet to come to fruition.
The building that housed St. Mary’s Mercy Hospital in downtown Gary, where Rodkin said Michael and the rest were born, is today also abandoned (and has attracted rumors of hauntings.
A mural of the musical family on Broadway St.
2300 Jackson Street
The Jacksons moved out of Gary to California in 1969, but the family has held onto the house. “My mother has this attachment with the house,” La Toya Jackson said in her Oprah Winfrey Network reality show “Life with La Toya.”
The Jacksons moved out of Gary to California in 1969, but the family has held onto the house.
“My mother has this attachment with the house,” La Toya Jackson said in her Oprah Winfrey Network reality show “Life with La Toya.”
“When everybody was in Indiana, the family was a whole,” LaToya said. “We did everything together.”
And she means it: The boys slept on bunk beds in one bedroom and the three girls on the couch in the living room.
Today, the granite memorial to Michael Jackson in front of the house has one of his lyrics carved in it: “Never Can Say Goodbye,” a line often intoned by mourners after he died in 2009.
Rodkin said that given the family’s 67-year hold on the little house on Jackson Street, the line seems like a doubly appropriate choice.