This three-story, 27-room lodge was constructed in 1933 along the banks of the Little Calumet River in the heart of the Indiana Dunes country. It was built by a Gary businessman whose idea was to intercept traffic between Chicago and the Indiana Dunes. It was located along the north side of U.S. Highway 20, between Mineral Springs Road and Howe Road near the town of Porter, Indiana. See the map at the bottom of this page.
The 33,000 square-foot structure was constructed of brick and cinder block, faced with limestone, in a mixture of Tudor Revival, Colonial Revival, and Medieval architectural styles.
In the early 1940's, the Coronado Lodge was advertised as offering 14 rooms, air conditioning and mineral spring water, and catered to proms, banquets, and wedding receptions. It was used later as an unofficial retreat for Lithuanian priests. Both during and after the second World War, the lodge was used to house Lithuanian refugees.
In 1974, the National Park Service purchased the property for $100,000 for its Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore unit. The National Park Service leased the lodge to the American Youth Hostel in May of that same year.
An inspection of the Coronado Lodge by the State Fire Marshal on July 14, 1978, resulted in the identification of numerous fire code violations. Operating as an American Youth Hostel (AYH) under a special use permit issued on March 1, 1974, Coronado Lodge repair estimates surpassed $100,000. On August 1, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Superintendent Whitehouse notified the AYH operator of the decision to close the Coronado Lodge. Moreover, Whitehouse and Midwest Region officials were unwilling to authorize health and safety renovations until the need for hostels could be outlined through the planning process. (Although the 1980 General Management Plan identified the need for hostels, Congress failed to appropriate rehabilitation funding for Coronado Lodge and the lakeshore officially canceled the special use permit in 1981.) Accessibility was one of the factors. Hostel patrons were almost totally dependent on automobiles to get to the Coronado Lodge as the area had no immediate rail or bus service and bicycle trails were not yet developed.
Efforts to reactivate the Coronado Lodge bore fruit in 1986 when the Kankakee Valley Job Training Center indicated its willingness to rehabilitate the structure and convert it to a hostel/canoe livery geared to overnight camping for environmental education.
The final entry in the book A Signature of Time and Eternity: The Administrative History of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Indiana by Ron Cockrell (1988) concerning the Coronado Lodge: "The Coronado Lodge may one day be transformed into a bed and breakfast or a hostel."
There were attempts to place the structure on the National Register of Historic Places. Unfortunately, the building did not meet all of the criteria.
The estimated cost to bring the building back to code was $2,000,000. In 1998 the National Lakeshore offered the Coronado Lodge up for auction, with a $1 minimum bid. The highest bidder would have 360 days to remove the building. Even with a tour of 60 prospective buyers, there were no bidders. As a result, the building was scheduled to be razed at a cost of $50,000.
The Coronado Lodge was demolished in March of 1999.
Other information, based on the demolition bid sheet: "13,363 square feet, three stories, 27 rooms. Exterior Construction: Masonry and frame construction with flagstone veneer. Interior Construction: Steel Bar joist with plaster and lathe. Additional considerations: 7,510 ft. of gravel driveways, 804 sq. ft of flagstone walks, 1,341 sq. ft. of stone wall made from field stone, 63x24 ft. garage of masonry construction with poured concrete ceiling forming a patio."
Click here for additional photographs, taken in June of 1998.