The G.A.R. Building Detroit

The Grand Army of the Republic


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It’s been a busy couple weeks preparing the groundwork for the renovation of the G.A.R. building here in Detroit.  Last Wednesday our team, John and Brian from Integrity Building Group and David and Tom from Mindfield, drove to Lansing for a meeting with Robb McKay at the State Historic Preservation Office. Robb specializes in historic architecture and we discussed some of the issues we are facing with the rehabilitation.  As you’d expect there are a number of obstacles in transitioning a 113 year old structure to a modern day facility for Mindfield.  One of the biggest issues facing the rehab is that there is no back side to the building – no alley to work with.  Where does one put a dumpster?  You can’t hide it “behind” the building when the building has three street-facing facades.ea6e0-_dsc7113-scaled1000Following the meeting with Robb we had an amazing opportunity to tour the state’s collection of actual Civil War flags housed in Michigan’s State Historic Museum.   The collection is managed by Matt Van Acker and Barb Thumudo, who both spent more than an hour unarchiving some of the collections’ most interesting flags, including one shipped back to the state following the Battle of Gettysburg.  The team had great stories relating to all of the flags and the contributions that Michigan citizens (and many future G.A.R. members) made to the Union war effort.  Looking at the 150 year old flags that bear the blood of Michigan men was certainly inspiring.  Sean, David and Tom are looking forward to sharing these stories at the G.A.R. in the museum and restaurant alike.76f06-_dsc7118-scaled1000Another highlight from this past week is that NewGAR has been approved for Obsolete Property Rehabilitation Act funding.  We have worked alongside the Detroit Planning and Development Department for months to make our case in qualifying for the funding.  Last Thursday we went before a sub-committee of City Council and today received word that the petition has been approved.  This has been one of the items which has kept us from starting the renovation in earnest and now we are clear to push ahead.20880-_dsc7125-scaled1000It’s a good day.

Back at the Mindfield offices our designers continue work on a series of logos for the building.  We are excited to reveal them in the near future.

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. I was excited to hear about the renovation to the building in Detroit. My ears perked up when I heard that at one time many of the soldiers from the Civil Warmet there, and saw a photo on the news.I am curious to know if there is a chance I’d be able to obtain, or look at these photos. My great grandfather fought in the War of 1812. He is buried at the OldSoldier’s Home in Grand Rapids, MI.. It is a piece of history, and a part of my family heritage.Thanking you in advance.I remain,Mary E. Donnelly-Nevin

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