Lew Wallace High School History Wiki (not -pedia)

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Lew Wallace High School - 415 West 45th Avenue - Gary Indiana 46408

Why a wiki?

An early proponent of the wiki way of sharing information, Ward Cunningham, called a wiki "the simplest online database that could possibly work,” of which the widely consulted ‘Wikipedia’ is perhaps the best known example. I offer this as a definition: a website that addresses a particular body of knowledge that allows its readers, researchers, users and experts to contribute their particular areas of knowledge for the good of all.

In preserving the history of Lew Wallace High School for future generations, certainly a formal, scholarly, heavily researched and annotated from primary source material would be the very most desirable document, and I hope that someone undertakes such a project at some time. Difficulties in research process would certainly arise as at this point, access to Gary documents is somewhat iffy. The Gary Public Library main branch, which had been the repository of many historical papers, has been closed since 2012, the Gary Historical Society seems to be in a state of flux, and there has been concern as well that documents and items of historical value have been left to the elements in the now shuttered school buildings. The fact that few hornets from the era of Lew Wallace as a neighborhood school still reside in the neighborhood makes preservation efforts, or a grass roots movement to spearhead a plan of action to have our alma mater declared a site for historical preservation unlikely and complicates the possibility of salvaging historical treasures in our former school.

Finding the usual and traditional avenues of preserving a piece of history closed, or at least heavily road blocked, to us, we set up the Wallace wiki in April, 2015, as a place where we could share information and memories about our school. We reiterate the invitation for all to contribute to this living document. Knowledge about the building’s history, stories about teachers, administrators and staff, lore about clubs, sports and extracurricular activity are welcomed, as are current stories and pictures regarding the condition and status of those hallowed halls. To date, we especially thank Kim Steinert, Kathy Combs Butler, Marlene Pajor and the Lew Wallace Library in Crawfordsville, Indiana for their contributions of materials and time.



A brand new city in 1906, Gary, Indiana hired William Wirt as its first School Superintendent in 1907. Wirt established a working relationship with St Louis architect William B. Ittner, and after creating several schools in the northern parts of Gary, this duo turned their attention to Glen Park, which had been annexed to the city in 1909.

In 1921, Wirt selected a 25 acre site to develop a school for the Glen Park area, and the first classes were held at what was then called “The 45th Avenue School” in what we would now call the East Building during fall of 1923. Glen Park was a rapidly growing area of Gary at that time, and by 1924, 8 portable buildings were added to house a total of more than 700 students.

In 1926, the West Building was added and housed a gym and an auditorium, and in 1927, the name was changed to Lew Wallace School and included complete high school classes. Verna Hoke, the first principal of the newly named school was hired and began her long tenure.

Further expansion occurred from 1931-1933 with the construction of the Main Building, and the 1931 cornerstone (near the main doors) remains visible. Another expansion was undertaken in the early fifties, and yet another in the early 70s. No significant changes were made in the structure after the 70s expansion, and Lew Wallace graduated her last class in Spring of 2014.

Original 45th Avenue School

Building plans; blueprints


William Wirt

Meaning of a public school to a neighborhood Work/study/play impact on school development and architecture Art collection

First Teachers and Administrators

Enrollment patterns

Largest and smallest graduating classes

Decline in enrollment

School closure

Building expansions

Growth of Glen Park


The History of the Lew Wallace School

In 1932, Dorothy Seefeldt wrote a brief history of Lew Wallace to that date, and it was published in the 1932 yearbook... (see more)

Cornerstone Ceremonies

Article from The Vidette Messenger, Valparaiso, IN: March 30, 1931:

"Cornerstone laying ceremonies for the $500,000 high school unit of Lew Wallace school will be held at 3 o'clock Tuesday afternoon, with school authorities, members of the board of education and civic leaders participating." see more


Memories of "the Portables"

Lew Wallace was a beautiful school. But my memories of school would not be complete without the " white painted portables". see more

Arson of 1957


Building plans; blueprints of the renovation

Images of the Renovation

The beginning phases of the renovation during the 1969-70 school year. Many physical signs of the past would soon disappear but the spirit would remain alive. see more

Administrators and Administrative Staff


Stella Z. Miles 1923 - 1925

Ina Martin 1925 - 1927

Verna Hoke 1927 - 1949

"It is not possible to think of Lew Wallace apart from our principal, Miss Verna M. Hoke. She commands the respect of the faculty, students, and citizens of the community. " see more

Floyd G. Asher 1950 - 1960

Donald Torreson 1961 - 1966

William Vorwald 1966 - 1969

Link to Vorwald obituary

Christ Christoff 1970 - 1988

In May, 2015, Kim Steinert sat down with Christ Christoff to talk about his days at Lew Wallace. see more

Mr. Mathews 1989 - ?

Marion Williams ? - ?

Clausell Harding ? - ?

Janice Minor ? - ?

Miss Piggott ? - ?

Lucille Upshaw ? - ?

Latanza Borden ? - ?

Clifton Gooden 2007(?) - 2014

Associate/Vice Principals

Administrative Assistants (office staff)

Counseling Staff





Compliance with Federal Integration Standards

In his narrative document, Mr. Vorwald remembers the struggle to meet federal standards in the 1960’s by busing students from Gary’s Midtown area to Lew Wallace. see more


Continued to college/graduated from college

Student Life

Class Pictures

Class of 1932

The Friends of Kathy Combs Butler

School Songs




Olive Leskow

The first thing that strikes you about her is her face: one is instantly reminded of a Russian matrushka doll but with snow white, curly, flyaway hair in place of the traditional babushka. See more.

Mary Cheever

Once in the lifetime of a school, a faculty member will make special contact in extraordinary ways with not just students, but their co-workers and the parents of the students as well. Lew Wallace School had such a person in Miss Mary Cheever, who taught French and Spanish language classes. Unfortunately, what makes Miss Cheever so remarkable in the collective memory of Lew Wallace is the violent and sudden way in which she met her death. See more.


Lew Wallace Handbooks

Class of 1933 Handbook

"School spirit is that intangible something that causes an atmosphere of happiness compounded of love, loyalty and service. The Lew Wallace school spirit can not be preserved unless our newcomers are led to understand, respect, and revere it. Therefore throughout this book the underlying purpose has been to instill the true meaning of Lew Wallace." see more

1964 Student Handbook

Class of 1972 Freshman Handbook (1968)

Course Descriptions

1963-65 Guidance Bulletin

Standardized test scores

Strength of various disciplines (science, arts, language arts, etc)

Required Auditorium Class (see 1936 book)

Areas of study concentration (majors? Minors?)

NCA Accreditation

1967-68 NCA evaluation

The major event of the 1967-1968 year was the regular evaluation of Lew Wallace by the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools (NCA). Accreditation by this group meant meeting higher professional standards than required by the states. see more


Primary School(?)
Junior Library
Senior Library
New Library (1972)
Library Fire
Library Images - Libraries.. and a media center. Photos of the junior and senior libraries prior to the renovation and another of the one-size-fits all variety. see more

Melton Tutoring Program

Early in the fall semester of 1971, Mrs. Arlene Von Horn of the guidance office contacted senior class member Kim McQuaid and asked for a meeting. At this meeting, Mrs. Von Horn outlined plans for the possible development of a cooperative program between Lew Wallace and nearby Melton Elementary School.

The purpose of the program, which was turned over to Kim’s leadership that day, was for Lew Wallace students to spend an open class hour - perhaps a study hall - at Melton on two or three days weekly. Lew Wallace students would provide in-room tutoring for Melton students selected by their teachers as possibly benefiting from it.

With Mrs. Von Horn as advisor, a base for the program was built. Lew Wallace students were urged to volunteer their time, and would travel to the specified classroom at Melton on the delegated days. Kim recalls her pupil as a second-grade girl.

Student tutors used a variety of methods to assist their pupils as needed: homemade flash cards, self-designed storybooks, arithmetic games, and whatever means they could employ while in the back of a functioning classroom.

The program was adjusted and tailored as time went by and the individual needs of the elementary students were better realized.

At the end of the 1971-72 school year, three Lew Wallace students were recognized for their leadership and participation in the tutoring program: Kim McQuaid, Cindy Rushe, and Laura Fisher. Since 1972 marked Kim’s graduation from Lew Wallace, the program went back into the hands of Mrs. Von Horn to find continuing leadership and development.

Student Activities

Social Events and Dances

Inaugural Ball - 1957

Student Council

1963 Christmas Tree for the Needy
1968 Student Officer Inauguration

Girls’ Club

Foreign Language Clubs

"Sprench" (Spanish-French) Club
Los Amigos
Les Parisiennes
Olympians (classical languages)

Chess Club

Hi-Y and Y-Teens(black students)

Musical Groups (choirs, bands, orchestras)

Dramatic Troupes

The Wizard of Oz
The Mikado
HMS Pinafore
You're a Good Man Charlie Brown


The members of the original "Quill and Blade" staff were chosen by a committee of seniors with the assistance of the class sponsors. The name for the annual was selected by the staff from a number suggested by the students. "Quill and Blade" was chosen because it symbolized the two greatest interests in the life of General Lew Wallace and because it would perpetuate the memory and ideals of that soldier-statesman for whom the school was named.


For many a year, the voice of the Lew Wallace student population was the student newspaper: the Philosopher. The paper featured news, sports, opinion and humor, all written and published by the students. More than just an exercise for those studying journalism, the Philosopher provided an opportunity for expression during changing times. See more...


The Ink-Pot Club, sponsored by Mrs. Nelle Ensweiler, was originally Organized at the close of the 1932 session of summer school. Membership in the club requires no especial scholastic standing but is rather determined by the applicant’s ability to write and to submit to the club some worth while creative work and by the recommendation which he must obtain from some high school English teacher. See more...


Klub Ken


Projector Club

BCO (Better Citizenship Organization)

"White Caps" - promoted nursing (called 'comparatively new' in 1953 yearbook)

Astronomy Club

Auxilia - library assistants

World Affairs Forum

Human Relations Forum - promoted better inter-student and faculty relations

FHA (Future Housewives of America)

Booster Club (called 'new' in 1971 yearbook)

Print/Pica club

WGVE 88.7 FM

History of WGVE
WGVE–FM, named after the initials for "Gary's Voice of Education," was created in 1954 at Lew Wallace Senior High School. The station was created "to enhance the local school curriculum by airing instructional programs" and to provide students with radio broadcast training in a high school class environment. It broadcasts on the FM band of the radio at 88.7 Megahertz. See more...

Memories of WGVE
Bob Guerrero was a freshman in 1969 when WGVE made the move to the Gary Technical Career Center that was attended by all Gary high school students who were juniors and seniors. See more...

  • See "External Links" section here at the bottom of this page for Gary Schools WGVE web site.

Sports and Athletics Teams

Harriers (runners)
GAA - Girls' Athletic Association
Girls' Rifle Team
Gold Team
Equestrian Club

Tech/Voc School

"The Spook Who Came In..." (movie) filmed at Tech school


Mary Cheever

Verna Hoke

John Minarich

Freshman Courtesy

Military Honor Roll

The Class of 1943 decided to remember in perpetuity the Lew Wallace graduates and other students who had served in the war, so they presented to the school a Service Roll Honor plaque. All Lew Wallace students seeing service in the war had their names listed on the plaque, and those who had been killed in service were denoted with a gold star in front of their names.


Zot Night

Ditch Day

Christmas Tree / Vespers

John F. Kennedy Assassination

Famous and Infamous Alums

  • Stacy Adams, former football coach at Valparaiso University.
  • Vic Bubas, former basketball coach at Duke University.
  • John Bushemi, war photographer.
  • Tellis Frank, NBA forward.
  • Milo Komenich, NBA player.
  • Hank Stram, AFL/NFL Head Coach and Super Bowl Champion.
  • Dan P. McAdams, author, psychologist.

The aftermath

Alumni Activity

Class of 1932 Reunion

50th class reunion, Owen H Schoon & class of 1932. First graduating class Lew Wallace High School. see more

Class of 1932 and the Lew Wallace Study, Crawfordsville, IN

"Two ladies, dedicated to the preservation of historic data, traveled to Crawfordsville yesterday to present historic momentos to Park and Recreation Director Rita Hamm to be placed in the Lew Wallace Study." see more

Classes of 1932, 1933, 1934 reunion of 1967

Class of 1933 50th Reunion

Class of 1964 50th Reunion

Class of 1966 Turns 66

Class of 1972 40th Reunion

Class of 1977 25th Reunion

2014 Building Tour

"Certainly, a significant part of any school's history is the student body itself. On May 31, 2014, I was pleased to have 80 alumni take part in a "welcome home" tour at Lew Wallace." see more

Selling the building? ‘the rock’

The auction

All good things must come to their inevitable end, and on April 4, 2015, the Gary Public School Corporation opened Lew Wallace High School one more time for an auction of the contents. See more.

Vandalism, scrapping

Missing artwork

Other information wanted

Photos, videos from students

Anecdotes from students

Any available yearbook material

Teacher reflections

Teacher rosters

Inside knowledge of building (closed areas, basements, shooting gallery,etc)

External Links