The G.A.R. Building Detroit

The Grand Army of the Republic


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130 to go…

Windows, that is.

Round ones, square ones, rectangles, some half circles and a few that are hard to describe what shape they are.   Some fold in, some slide up and down, some have been turned into exits and a handful do not open at all.  A whole lot of windows – that’s what our site carpenters are up to at the moment – and will be thru the fall as all those pine windows are taken apart, stripped, re-glazed, repainted and then put back together.  It is important to us that when the G.A.R. is complete – it will look like it did when it was dedicated to the CW veterans more than 100 years ago.

130 to go…

We looked at sample windows from modern manufacturers and we discussed replacing all the glass with insulated panes.  But at the end of the day we knew the right thing to do was take what we had, make them new again and move on.  Not the easiest, probably not the least expensive approach but how and what the G.A.R. was meant to be.c2e3c-dsc_7172-scaled1000The team is starting in the attic and working from the turrets inward on the Grand River side.  If you drive by the building you can see plywood placed in the openings where the frames have been removed.  From there they will go floor-by-floor down until the second floor is complete.  There is a new “sealed off” shop in the building where the wood frames are being stripped safely, from there they will move through an assembly line set up until complete.dfc23-dsc_7188-scaled1000There has also been a good bit of “archaeology” in trying to reveal the original paint color of the exterior frames.  We have three or 4 paint chips from underneath the layers of colors on the frames and will be looking at those next week to pick from.  We will also be looking at the paint colors next to a section of the exterior stone which has been cleaned.  Just to nail the color matching.48799-dsc_7198-scaled1000For such a small building – the windows make up a big part of it’s character.  No doubt, they highlight the design aspect like frosting on a cake and as the roof and stone are repaired will truly tie together the whole picture as it was envisioned for the veterans memorial.

…all 130 of them.

All photos by Lindsey Yeo

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.

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