The G.A.R. Building Detroit

The Grand Army of the Republic



Google says that phrase originally was “hustle your bustle”, a bustle at one point being an element of a woman’s dress. At the time, it meant to tell someone to hurry up. Today, both “hustle and bustle” and “hustle your bustle” have great meaning at Detroit’s G.A.R. building.

A. There is quite a bit of hustle and bustle throughout the building. The teams at the restaurants are at full speed prepping for the soon-to-be opening of the Republic and

B. All of our teams are all in hurry up mode to get the doors open on both the outlets and on the offices of Mindfield, 4 floors up. Our media team has been plotting who will sit where…and is anxious to get in and settled.

A few photos here with some updated shots of whats happening inside.DSC_7883The floor of the Parks & Rec Diner. This space was once a Henderson Glass location. If you look in one of their current shops they have a picture of the building on their walls. The floor is the original terrazzo which we have simply mended and polished. You can clearly see where the front counter was when they were peddling glass.DSC_7885The diner will also be home to 7 hanging light fixtures which we have salvaged and had rebuilt. ’cause why not?!?!?DSC_7896The walk in cooler has been graced with a picture of Christopher Walken. Again, ’cause why not.

All photos by Lindsey Yeo

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Even in the closing stages of rehabbing most of the GAR building in Detroit, she still occasionally surprises us with another “find.”

This key fell out from behind a section of baseboard. It wouldn’t fit into any of the doors in the building. Perhaps an old cabinet that once lived there.

We’re creating a display case in the lobby highlighting all the original pieces found over the last few years.

This will live there amongst the other items.


Photo by Lindsey Yeo

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unnamed (1)From top to bottom… Detroit’s Grand Army building is getting the finishing touches.

2015 is starting just as 2014 ended.unnamed (2)The teams are prepping for doors to open at Republic and the Parks and Rec Diner and we’re packing to move Mindfield into the new space (once the NAIAS is over).unnamed (3)At the same time the trades are putting the finishing touches on the castle… from the ceiling in the assembly hall to the keg cooler in the basement and most everywhere in between.unnamed (4)It’s gonna be a busy January!!!

All photos by Lindsey Yeo



GAR_xmasPostIt’s been an exciting year for us here at Mindfield. We are in the final stages of planning the new studio for our team at the Grand Army building here in Detroit.

Outside and all around us the neighborhood is popping. DTE plans to start work on their park across from us in the spring, the Red Wings broke ground on a new arena just a few blocks to our north and of course, a team is being put together to create 2 great new restaurants inside the G.A.R.. If all goes accordingly, Republic and the Parks & Rec Diner will begin welcoming guests in the early weeks of 2015.

As important as all of that is, as we enter into the holiday season, we are taking time to reflect not only on the men whom this building was meant to honor but also all the men and women who have served our country in the time since. The “castle” is an amazing structure and we’re proud to be the team which is restoring it to it’s former glory, however, we ask that no one lose sight of the “why” it was built.

The Detroit Free Press ran an article in February of 1887 – 12 years before construction of the G.A.R. even began. In it was written that the hall would ultimately serve “to perpetuate the memories of all soldiers who ever aided to put down the rebellion”. While the U.S. has not seen a conflict exactly like the Civil War since, countless men, women and their families have continued to make great sacrifices to protect our nation.

We at Mindfield and the entire team at the Grand Army of the Republic building offer up our gratitude to all U.S.veterans and all those serving on active duty around the globe today.



Although the Grand Army of the Republic building did not have the first electric elevator in the city of Detroit, it did have one of the earliest. (Apparently that honor goes to Wright-Kay building on Woodward and John R). So, one of the first questions we had when we took possession of the “castle” was what shape the elevator was in. Installing a new elevator in a well preserved shaft is expensive enough, if we had to do major structural work things could have gotten ugly quickly.

Once again we got lucky. Somehow, the elevator chase escaped any significant damage. The elevator itself was toast but anything we needed to install a new lift was right where it should have been.

When we talked finishes with the elevator company we requested they salvage anything possible for the new cab. Sadly, 100 year old elevators do not offer much up along the lines of re-use. The one element that did show some sign of life was the original roof of the cab. We had to hope that under 20 layers of paint there would be something interesting.DSC_7833Like solid steel.

After a bit of work by George (one of our favorite workmen) and a period light fixture from Senate Resale (our favorite shop for stuff we don’t really need) we’ve got just enough old to offset the new.

Photo by Lindsey Yeo

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unnamedAnd when it does – the two soon to open restaurants in Detroit’s G.A.R. building will have the front doors in place to hear it.

If you look closely at old photos of “the castle”, you’ll see there were a number of shops on the first floors over the years and a number of entrances. When we took over the building in 2011, the few that remained were either solid steel or heavy wood for security reasons… not the original white oak and plate glass.

The 3 pictured below are recreations of what the G.A.R. veterans would have seen as they arrived to meet at the building at the turn of the last century.

Our construction teams put the final touches on the stain / finish inside what will soon be the Parks and Rec Diner.

One step closer.


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DSC_7697As we move closer and closer to move-in day – the final details are taking shape and most of the original elements are going back into place. 100 plus years of paint and dirt took it’s toll…but luckily, our teams restoration efforts are beginning to show what the architects had planned for the G.A.R. back in the 1890’s.DSC_7699In addition to the handrails being stripped and repaired you can see the toe kicks along the stairs are being restored and made as close to original as possible.

Imagine the aging veterans making their way up these stairs in the 1920’s and 30’s.

Note that the walls have also all been plastered and restored to their original look and feel as well.


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