The G.A.R. Building Detroit

The Grand Army of the Republic



With the inspections picking up on most of the mechanical work, the teams putting the walls in place are back on site and helping us to get a better feel for the partitions in the building. The walls we’ve been imagining for years are now becoming reality.

The first two floors of the building to see life this fall will be the ground level with both the Republic Tavern and the Parks and Rec Diner and the the uppermost floor (the former assembly hall) which will soon the new home to our media firm, Mindfield.

With each new round of photos there are fewer tools and equipment strewn about. As you can see the mechanical elements are now found hung from the walls and ceiling and soon to be buried behind drywall.DSC_4567Photo taken of the diner interior from just inside the entrance. The opening to the left will be the restroom and the right will lead to the kitchen. The counter sits to the right along the Cass Street side.DSC_4587Soon to be restrooms in the Republic Tavern. They both sit behind the bar back. The opening to the far right leads to the kitchen.DSC_4573Interior shot of a section of the kitchen itself. Note how crowded the ceiling is becoming.DSC_4609This shot shows where the balcony in the Assembly Hall meets the wall running along Grand River. The restored plaster cove and new ceiling above. I think the fabric hanging there might be an old tablecloth we took over for a pizza party with the Mindfield staff. No idea why it’s still hanging there.DSC_4621Different angle on the same corner as above. The open trench is the ceiling will be filled with the plaster molding which is currently being recreated. In the bottom right of the photo, you can see the curved proscenium above the original stage.DSC_4623A close up of the coved ceiling with remnants of the plaster molding. The new sprinkler pipes sneak in from the left. Falcon Fire systems has just the attic and basement left before they’ve fully “sprinklered” the G.A.R. building.

All photos by Lindsey Yeo



DSC_4221With fall quickly approaching, the teams are hard at work getting the systems in place in Detroit’s Grand Army building. A few weekends back, we actually opened a large section of the roof and used a crane to lower part of the building’s HVAC system into place. The crew lifted a half dozen pieces into the attic above what will be Mindfield’s offices. The largest of which weighed about 2500 pounds. Once everything was set in place, the equipment was connected to the duct work and will soon begin pushing hot and cold air. Prior to this you’d stand near a radiator to get warm and an open window to cool off (if you were lucky).DSC_4213DSC_42155 flights below, the electrical team had to build a hoist to lower the main disconnects into place in the basement.. They weighed in at 700 pounds each and would have easily shattered the stairs on the way down. DTE is in the final phase of providing our main power to the building. Soon, we will finally be able to disconnect from the temporary power we’ve had for almost 2 years.DSC_3737DSC_3767Keep an eye out for word of a “grand re-opening event” at the G.A.R. this fall. It’s still in the planning stages, but will be a chance (finally) for people to get in and see the restored spaces in the building. We’re planning a fund raiser to support both a memorial for the Civil War veterans in the building as well as designating funds for Veteran’s organization.DSC_4197It will be a November event, right around Veterans Day. How’s that for timing?

All photos by Lindsey Yeo

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Lindsey, our photographer at Mindfield was off last week…so we have a lot to catch up on.  She spent most of today at the castle taking pictures of all the work the team pulled together when she was out.

The most noticeable change would be the addition of the bar framing in the Republic Tavern.  We’d been staring at lines on the floors for months – so seeing the knee wall in place is a big step towards better visualizing what goes where and what else will fit around it.DSC_4178This is what you’ll see upon walking into the restaurant. If you look past all the tools and stacks of drywall you can see the wood framing leaning off to the right.  The bar runs parallel to Grand River along the front of the space. If it looks big to you – that was our reaction as well.  There is a great bar back going in on the rear of the bar but even still, we hope you’re thirsty.  We’ll have plenty of room for you.DSC_4185
DSC_4182 If you look closely you can see we have stripped the paint off the recently revealed columns to highlight the bare steel surface.  There are a total of 4 columns running from the back to the front of the space.  They remain one of the coolest “finds” in Detroit’s G.A.R. building.DSC_4160

All photos by Lindsey Yeo



Well, someone was – a long time ago.  And then left the bottle “under” the basement of the G.A.R. building in Detroit for us to find 100+ years later.

Our teams have been trenching in the basement for a while now and working to locate where the plumbing drains start and end up.  Last week, they hit glass and somehow managed not to break it.

The first bottle is easy.  A half pint bottle from The Detroit Creamery Company.  We found this write-up about them in a News article.

“Over time the big dealers were prevailing. Detroit Creamery Company had the largest dairy processing plant in the state and was considered by many to be the cleanest plant in the country. Every day 303 wagons with teams of horses left their plant and made a total of 50,000 stops, selling more than 20,000 gallons of milk. By 1916 they began using motor trucks for wholesale deliveries.”  and

“The Detroit Creamery Company formed in 1897, and by 1916 built a beautiful state-of-the-art dairy and horse stable at Grand River and Cass Avenue, designed by no less an architect than Albert Kahn.”


Photo via the Albert Kahn Collection

The article states that the dairy was right across the street from the G.A.R..

The second bottle shows no markings.  It’s blue and almost half the height of the milk bottle. Medicine perhaps?  One has to think the worker was pretty sore after digging a basement for the castle.

(The photo shows the current Mindfield office in the background…gonna be tough to leave this space after all these years.)


Photo by Lindsey Yeo

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DSC_3085From the kitchen looking toward the Grand River windows.

DSC_2953Looking accross what will eventually be the bar.

The existing floors in both the Parks and Rec Diner and the Republic Tavern had to be trenched in order to run all the new mechanical through the restaurants. The cuts were made months ago and we’ve been stepping over them ever since while the plumbing, electrical and bar lines were set in place.

DSC_3098Where the Diner counter will be.

DSC_3229Wet concrete.

This week, we’ve been able to stop jumping about as we finally are at a place where they can be filled in and the floor made whole again. The teams worked the final prep in the am – and the cement truck arrived just after lunch. Then the pouring began.

DSC_3362Finished look.

DSC_3233Wet concrete vs. terrazzo.

Concrete is not generally exciting on it’s own, but as it brings us one step closer, we think it is kinda cool. In fact as the walls can now begin to go up in place, we think concrete is actually very cool.

DSC_3416All dry the next day.

All photos by Lindsey Yeo

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DSC_2546DSC_2568Actually, these images are more of “ducts and ladders” but it is a cool look at all of the mechanical that is making it’s way into the attic. Somehow, this work has fallen during this “hot spell” in the weather. It get’s warm up there.DSC_2787If nothing else, it’s a great contrast between wood and steel…and a few bricks.DSC_2789

All photos by Lindsey Yeo

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DSC_2057Not really, actually. Hopefully the new sprinkler system will be the most underutilized piece of equipment in the building. It’s going in either way – and for the first time in 115 years, there will be a fire suppression system in Detroit’s G.A.R. building.DSC_2051We’ve been told by some, that “back in the day” some of the ravers in the building would start fires on the lobby floor to stay warm. There remains soot on a few of the ceilings as proof of those stories. Fortunately, that was the worst of the damage left behind.DSC_2047The team from Falcon Fire Protection is working with us to hang lots and lots of steel pipe throughout the castle. They’re wasting no time as the second floor is done now and they’re on to the next.DSC_2043Before long, they’ll turn a valve or 2 and we’ll have water for “just in case”.

Photos by Mindfield’s Lindsey Yeo


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