The G.A.R. Building Detroit

The Grand Army of the Republic

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DSC_9658DSC_9724At this point, the mechanical chase at the G.A.R. building in Detroit is completely open and the trades are busy running their systems from basement to attic. There was an interesting negotiation between all the companies vying for as much space as they could get. At the end of the day, the single shaft will contain ventilation from the from the restaurants, plumbing lines, electrical lines, the HVAC system, IT, phones, a security system and on and on and on.DSC_9776DSC_9786As none of these elements existed previously so walls and floors were opened for better access. These photos show the prep work on the 4th floor.DSC_9806

Photos by Mindfield’s Lindsey Yeo



DSC_9584Prep work continues on at the G.A.R. building in Detroit.  This past week we have revealed a bit more of how the space(s) on the first level were decorated.  The wall pictured below runs along the Cass Avenue side of the building in the space which will eventually become the diner.

I think we count 6 layers of wall paper…each pasted upon the last.DSC_9577

Photos by Mindfield’s Lindsey Yeo



I think we’ve mentioned how cool the basement is at the G.A.R. building in Detroit. Although we don’t know how much some of the trades are digging it right now. A big part of updating all the utilities is finding where the old ones were and seeing how much is still usable.

We’ve had some good luck recently with some of the electrical runs into the building and this past week it was time for the plumbing guys to do some digging of their own. We’ve been working with the Fred Barton Plumbing Company for years on some of our other projects in the city. They we’re a no-brainer to help us renovate the G.A.R..DSC_9537DSC_9543DSC_9542 Around the corner from the digging another team is helping up demo an old wall and expanding the space where we will store the kegs for the restaurant. It’s not a large building so every available inch will be used in one way or another. From this part of the basement is is a short run to where the bar will be built up above. You’ll notice the piles of bricks around the work area. We’re planning to re-use everything we can in the new build out.DSC_9732DSC_9637DSC_9638This last shot is a remnant of the original elevator equipment. Looks like something out of Frankenstein’s lab. Back behind it you can see where the new electric lines will enter the building.DSC_9538

Photos by Mindfield’s Lindsey Yeo

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With each passing week there are more and more signs of progress at Detroit’s Grand Army building. On any given day we’re seeing more and more teams of workers. The trades are having to work around each other at this point – and we think that is a pretty good problem to have.


In both the restaurants, workers are chipping away on the floors and ceilings alike. The building had been on steam heat prior to our moving in. The addition of a true HVAC system is bringing suspended duct work throughout.


The “core” of the building houses the kitchen and baths. The duct work here runs through the wall and to the center chase.


The existing brick walls is 2 feet thick in some areas. The opening to the left run from basement to attic. It will eventually hold runs for all the mechanical systems.DSC_9567

Same chase, looking up.

Photos by Mindfield’s Lindsey Yeo

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DSC_9484Mindfield co-owner and G.A.R. “re-habber” Sean Emery was asked this week to speak to the history of one of Detroit’s oldest buildings and update the crowd of Detroit enthusiasts on the progress of the renovation.

Mindfield’s good friend Charlie Wollburg put the event together.

Sean is becoming our resident historian on all things “Grand Army”.

It’s a good story to tell.DSC_9512

Photos by Mindfield’s Lindsey Yeo

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DSC_9217This past Friday, the team did another walk-thru at Detroit’s G.A.R. building and discussed the final layout for the Republic Tavern.  After month’s of creating floor plans for the restaurant and then changing them, and then moving them around again, it was time to commit to the space and move things forward.  The black spray paint on the floor outlines the location of the bar.DSC_9261Today, the concrete saw arrived.DSC_9268We’re told that initially the G.A.R. building was designed with a full basement.  At one point however, the decision was made to include an elevator and the funds for that were taken, in part, from the monies set aside for the basement.  Ultimately, the basement makes up about half of the floor plate.  There is very little basement under the planned tavern.DSC_9316 Given that, the team is now tearing up the floor.  As we look to add beer taps at the bar and drains in the bathrooms, trenches must be dug to create the space for the pipes and tubing.DSC_9303 If you look closely in some of the photos you can see the original storefronts which we have re-created.  The openings are almost floor to ceiling and will ring the restaurants on all sides of the building.

Photos by Mindfield’s Lindsey Yeo



A good friend of ours found this picture in an archive. We have not come across many historic pictures of Detroit’s G.A.R. building (less than a dozen or so). Any time we do – it’s always a great addition to the mix.

The sign on the left says “you can’t eat bombs”

Note the retractable awnings across the front and the G.A.R. letters above the main entrance.



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