The G.A.R. Building Detroit

The Grand Army of the Republic

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DSC_6504The completed G.A.R. building in Detroit will be an exciting mix of the old and the new. A reflection of the past with a unique polish which will prepare it for a long relevant future.DSC_6526DSC_6658That future was given a serious shot in the arm this past week as we hosted one of LA’s most exciting young artists, Gregory Siff. Siff made his first visit to the “D” alongside former Detroiter and the G.A.R.’s interior designer Peter Gurski. The 2 took in the city from the riverfront to the D.I.A. to our favorite speakeasy D’Mongos’.DSC_6717Wednesday night, in front of a small circle of Mindfield friends, Siff created his first piece ever in Detroit. A wall sized installation which now graces the bar area of Republic. His work is spot on in representing Detroit’s character and the people who make this place the awesome city that it is.DSC_6760Come see it this fall when we open the tavern.DSC_6788Oh, and check out the t-shirt he’s sporting. I think our new friend is a fan of the city.DSC_6899

All photos by Lindsey Yeo



Every time we think we’ve found the last of the cool “leftovers” in the G.A.R. building in Detroit – she comes back at us with something we’d never imagine.

Early on it was a carved wooden spoon, we’ve since found whiskey bottles tucked away in the rafters, an 100+ year old milk bottle and a pick ax (which we still have no idea why that was left above a ceiling joist).

Our latest find might be one of the coolest.

We have 2 awesome gentlemen who are helping with the miscellaneous jobs around the building. There names are George and Terrance (who goes by “T”). One of my favorites things is to see either of them when we walk through the castle – always a great smile and a quick hello.

A few weeks back they were cleaning 2 of the I-beams in the basement – so that we could coat them and cut down on any future rust. After the scraped the sides of one, some print came into focus… C-A-R-N-E-G-I-E…(odd)…a bit more revealed S-T-E-E-L.

Carnegie Steel.

Andrew Carnegie purchased a few steel mills in Pennsylvania in the 1880’s. In 1892 he assembled all his steel holdings and formed the steel company with his name on it. Less than 10 years later he sold his firm for the equivalent of what would be more than 13 Billion of today’s dollars.

Somewhere in between he shipped a few pieces to Detroit to hold up the Grand Army Building.

Our friends George and “T” have now made sure they stick around for another hundred years or so.

Cool, eh?

Carnegie Steel

Carnegie Steel

Photo by Lindsey Yeo

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DSC_6207DSC_6285We’re going to hold off on any “wide shots” of Detroit’s G.A.R. Building for a while. As we near the home stretch with the finishes, we want to leave the big picture images until the end. The good news is Mindfield photog Lindsey has a great eye for the cool detail shots.DSC_6251DSC_6241It’s good to work with such talented people. Enjoy the limited look around.DSC_6290DSC_6221

All photos by Lindsey Yeo

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DSC_5649 The most interesting thing about these pictures is that there are no trades in them. Considering the numbers of workers we have in the building right now, Mindfield photog Lindsey must have been there at lunch time today.  The building was oddly quiet.DSC_5685DSC_5744Just some progress shots from throughout the G.A.R. building in Detroit.DSC_5707Enjoy!DSC_5729-Edit

All photos by Lindsey Yeo

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(Title of a great poem by AA Milne)DSC_5268Before you say anything – there’s no lead in the stain on the staircase – so please don’t worry about the lack of masks.  We have a serious team at the G.A.R. – they know what they’re doing and know we don’t want anyone getting sick.   :)DSC_5264That being said – here’s an update on the restoration of the stairs themselves. We continue to be amazed at how many spindles survived the 30 year that the castle was boarded up.  They’re only having to shape a handful for the 3 flights of stairs.DSC_5269 The teams are working pretty well alongside one another.  Today the stair guys were working around scaffolding set by the wall guys, dodging the team carrying buckets of old plaster from the upper floors and avoiding the elevator guys walking up flights and installing the new lift.DSC_5274 We’re lucky to have such a great group of craftsmen.

All photos by Lindsey Yeo



DSC_4366For years we have walked through the lobby of the G.A.R. building in Detroit and wondered what once sat up on the newel at the base of the stairs. The sides have ornate wood carvings but the top is unfinished. Something clearly sat atop it once

but we have had no pictures to tell us what to replace and how to finish it.

This past week – we found the answer. Quite unexpectedly.DSC_5511The 3 of us are often asked out to speak about the renovation of the castle. When schedules allow between Mindfield and family events, we like to go out and tell the building’s story (and get people excited to eat in Republic and the Parks and Rec diner).

This past week we were with a group in Grosse Point and at the close of the evening a woman approached us, said she used to work for the city, would visit the different Parks and Rec centers and had fond memories of walking though the G.A.R..DSC_5512Then she hit us with the question “Does the carved pineapple still sit at the base of the stairs?”

“WHAT?”, we asked…

“The pineapple, is it still in the lobby?” she repeated.

In a single moment, she had unknowingly helped us solve one of the biggest mysteries we had to date in the building’s renovations.

Sometimes you have to leave a place to learn things about it.DSC_5517
P.S. – If anyone has any information leading to the recovery and replacement (and verification) of the original wooden pineapple we will gladly arrange for a delicious, real pineapple dessert to be prepared specifically for you by Republic’s Chef de Excellence, Kate Williams! Yum!

All photos by Lindsey Yeo



DSC_5195Another heading for this might have been “Finding a Needle in a Haystack”. Our plumber team found this old penny tucked somewhere in the G.A.R. building here in Detroit. We like Barton Plumbing because of their attention to detail – and they went above and beyond in finding this small token amidst all they were doing.DSC_5194What’s really interesting is that it is a Canadian coin. The G.A.R. Hall was completed right around 1900 – so this was most likely a shiny penny when someone accidentally dropped it. How it traveled from Canada to Detroit is a mystery.DSC_5192There will be a display case in the lobby with all the “found” items from the construction phase.

Likely this will be the smallest item shown.

All photos by Lindsey Yeo


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