The G.A.R. Building Detroit

The Grand Army of the Republic



While there are few visible signs of the rehab being done at the G.A.R. – – we are off and running with all the behind the scenes work which are a necessary evil for the true construction phase. In the weeks and months since we closed on the building we have finalized contracts with our architect/builder team (Detroit-based Integrity Building Company) signed engineers, a window restoration team, a roofing firm and the environmental company which will abate 30 years of pigeon mess, asbestos and numerous layers of dirt dust and crud.

The most notable sign of progress in the G.A.R. rehab was the removal of almost 100 sheets of protective plywood which had been in place for nearly 30 years.  We let the light back into the upper floors over the course of a week in early January and it marked the first time we had actually seen the interior of the building with anything more than flashlights.  Like the opening of an Egyptian tomb – the many architectural treasures which the G.A.R. holds were even greater than we expected… and although the building is completely void of contents… there is so much detail in the design and architecture, we find something “new” to take in each time we walk through the building.

Soon, we fence off the site – and begin work in earnest.  Cleaning, sealing and adding all the modern building systems which will help create what we feel will be the coolest address in the city of Detroit.

We’ll update this as regularly as there are interesting things to write about…b66dc-thegarpic_fromdc_feb2012-scaled1000Sunlight pours through the plate glass of the G.A.R. for the first time in almost 30 years.1f3ba-gar3-scaled1000A typical “before” picture of what will become one of the most impressive work spaces in Detroit.dbf74-roof7-scaled500Assessing the roofing conditions at 1942 W Grand River.

Author: G.A.R. Building

The G.A.R. building was purchased by the media production firm Mindfield from the City of Detroit in November, 2011. Mindfield has started renovating the G.A.R., with opening slated for November 2014. Mindfield plans to occupy the top two floors itself, lease the ground floor for 2 restaurants, and dedicate a memorial to Civil War Veterans. The G.A.R. Building was designed by architect Julian Hess, and constructed at 1942 West Grand River and Cass as an appropriate structure for meetings and other G.A.R. related activities. The original construction cost was split between the Grand Army of the Republic (who paid $6000 of the cost) and the city of Detroit (who paid the remainder of the $44,000 total cost). Construction commenced in 1897 on the five-story building.


  1. Neat!! What will it be used for? Hoping to see lots more pictures 🙂

  2. hmm.. never mind that comment, I didn’t even -see- the right hand bar explaining it’s use, until after I posted the link to Facebook, and it gave me the summary. haha.Awesome to see such a cool looking building ready to come alive.*now wondering what Mindfield does?*


  4. Hello I am a Historic Preservationist and have work on many building around the country and this one is very special to me. I was born in Detroit, my GGGrandfather was in the Union Army during the Civil War fought with the 24th MI. I do Civil War reenacting and am glad to see someone finally appreciates this building. I would love to be a part of it. Thank you,Thomas

  5. Thanks for all the positive vibe. We’re more excited each day as the layers of dust are removed and our plans become reality. Stay tuned!

  6. Thanks guys for saving what I would say is one of downtown Detroit’s five most attractive buildings. I cannot remember ever seeing that building when it was open. You are doing the State of Michigan a great favor restoring this architectural showpiece.

  7. I would -so- love to have a corner office there. 😀

  8. You guys are fantastic. I hope you’re business ZOOMS!

  9. mega cudos for undertaking the project. you will never be sorry. I put my lawfirm into an 1878 Italianate house and have never regretted it for a second. We spend enough time working that we deserve making our work environs special havens. This is good for Detroit and will become a signature property for promoting the City.

  10. This is terrific news! Welcoming back the greatest hidden architectural gem in the city of Detroit is so incredible. Please keep updating this blog!

  11. Oh and MORE PICTURES, please!!!

  12. Are there any interior photos from back "in its day"?

  13. …and what firm built it (1899)?

  14. David / Tom – I can’t tell you how happy I was to see you folks had gotten control of the building. I am now confident she will get the attention she richly deserves. I can’t think of a better team in Detroit to restore her.Best of luck!

  15. PLEASE make sure that building is secured tight as a drum while the work is being done! I’m seriously waiting for someone to do something stupid like throwing a brick through one of those newly-unboarded windows! Or ala the Vinton Building – nearing completion and then somebody walks away with an elevator motor or something. All the best, just be on your toes until it’s a fully occupied structure!

  16. I saw every inch of the building 30 years ago when the city first had it for sale. FANTASTIC space and details. Loved the performing arts space with it’s balcony.

  17. I’m glad this is happening! This building has great character! Good luck!

  18. What is going on with the heating system? It would be great to save the existing steam system. I would keep with the character of the building.

  19. I’m so glad somebody is doing this. I’m currently creating (and have been for the last few months) a show where the main characters live in apartments inside the renovated GAR building, I’m so pleased that somebody is rennovating it for real. 🙂

  20. I’m very Happy to see a Great Historic building come alive and I would to see your progress of your project. Thank you for investing in a Great City!!!!!

  21. I can help you with the "L.N.L. 9" question; the abbreviation stands for the Ladies National League, one of many ‘auxiliary’ organizations affiliated with the GAR.

  22. Thanks Dennis!There were so many groups which utilized Memorial Hall. We turning up more and more pretty regularly. We appreciate your input.

  23. Simply Amazing……..keep up the EXCELLENT work……….

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