The G.A.R. Building Detroit

The Grand Army of the Republic


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c2382-_dsc7541-scaled1000Sean, Tom and I spent last week in New York on a media project for Mindfield. The trip gave us a little free time to research some other cool old buildings, but it also kept us away from the on-going work at the G.A.R.  That was tough. Seems so much has happened in the week we were gone.

The environmental work has been completed and with the exception of old fashioned dirt and dust the G.A.R. is again a safe space to be in.  EME went as far as to pull floorboards in the attic and vacuum.  I can only imagine with the wood in the attic cleaned the space must be very close to how it appeared in 1899.30b1b-gar_still3-scaled1000Our site carpenters, Randy and Nick, have just about completed replacing the water damaged joists in the turrets on each floor where it suffered the most neglect.  For the first time, we are getting into some corners where it has not been safe to walk.  We have been in awe of the view from the attic turrets.  There are 8 or 9 windows in each and it has this awesome panoramic view of the neighborhood.6e8a3-_dsc7557-scaled1000We returned to see the last side of the building (along Grand River) fenced in.  With that in place – we will now safely begin work on the exterior renovations to the building. The warm weather is welcomed as the teams start climbing around on the exterior.

Under cover of darkness we had a team remove part of the failing fire escape.  After years of it being climbed upon to gain access to the G.A.R. – it needs to be rebuilt.  They have taken a whole section away to be rebuilt.66dcd-gar_still1-scaled1000Our GC at Integrity Building Group has been finalizing estimates for the stonework, and we are all working to design an updated roofing system that will combine 19th century look and feel with 21st century functionality.  We have many masters to serve on this one.  When the G.A.R was built there was no need for anything penetrating the roof.  The only systems that fed through the roof at all were one fireplace and some venting for the plumbing.  This time around, we must accommodate for a great big HVAC system to heat and cool the 5-story structure.And last but not least – our mining for artifacts for the G.A.R. memorial seems to be paying off.  We are in the process of forming a non-profit entity to manage and maintain a memorial for the “Boys in Blue.”  While we currently have a small starter collection of relics related to the organization and it’s members, we hope to have some additional exiting news soon.

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.

One thought on “WHILE WE WERE AWAY

  1. I really enjoy these updates and having a look inside one of the great buildings in my neighborhood. Thanks!

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