WHITING, Ind. — A historic White Castle, nestled less than a mile from Lake Michigan near the Indiana/Illinois border, has been serving sliders by the sackful since 1935. But the storied history of the porcelain castle is about to be dismantled, brick by brick.
According to the Times of Northwest Indiana, the 88-year-old Whiting White Castle — located at the corner of Indianapolis Boulevard and 119th Street in Whiting since 1935 — is set to be replaced with a “newer, larger, more modern version.”
Sat at 1879 Indianapolis Blvd for the better part of a century, the Whiting White Castle has become so entrenched in the history of the area that even the Whiting-Robertsdale Historical Society pays tribute to the castle guarding Indianapolis Boulevard with commemorative postcards and an exhibit in the museum.
“Here in Whiting, we love our White Castles and are so happy that they are staying put even though they’re remodeling,” said Gayle Kosalko, museum director for the historical society. “We’ll certainly miss the look of the original porcelain palace.”
Kosalko believes the Whiting White Castle to be the last of the porcelain restaurants left in all the White Castles across the nation. The original 1935 White Castle was built to resemble a small castle, inspired by Chicago’s Water Tower from the time. The Whiting White Castle was one of 50 built in the Chicago area to be in this style. It was eventually remodeled and expanded in the many decades since.
Tom Dabertin, vice president of the Whiting-Robertsdale Chamber of Commerce, told the NWI Times that the Whiting White Castle was extensively renovated in the late 1960s, adding public bathrooms. Further additions included adding a drive-thru in the late 1980s.
Kosalko wrote that the Whiting White Castle has lived in “countless memories from countless people.” On the historical society’s website, she shared stories of its rich history including the story of a woman named Phyllis Yanas who recalled earning $1 an hour while working at the White Castle in the late 1950s and how a frequent customer came in every night for hot chocolate and a doughnut.
The customer didn’t care much for the burgers, saying they didn’t sit well with him. But he did care for the service. The two eventually married
Phyllis wasn’t the only person who found love at the Whiting White Castle either.
“From budding romances to late-night burgers, the one constant in our community since 1935 has always been our local White Castle, an important landmark here in Whiting,” Kosalko wrote.
The NWI Times reported that White Castle will honor the old store with a historic marker on the site and a mural in the dining room of the new restaurant.
The Whiting-Robertsdale Historical Society provided photos to accompany this story.