The G.A.R. Building Detroit

The Grand Army of the Republic



DSC_0892One of my favorite horror films was released back in the 80’s and starred George C. Scott as a widower who moves into an old mansion somewhere in the Pacific Northwest.  By the end of the movie he tears through a fake wall to discover a hidden attic and the spirit of the murdered child who haunted him. DSC_0881 While we don’t think the G.A.R. building in Detroit is haunted, we did have a similar experience in ripping through a plywood barricade to gain access to the attic.  With flashlights in hand, we unscrewed the boards, crept up a narrow staircase to the sound of pigeon bones and decades of bird mess crunching underfoot. DSC_0914 We actually never even saw the attic until after we purchased the property.  We we’re told it was “unsafe” to be in.DSC_0923The wait was well worth it though as it has become one of our favorite (albeit unusable) spaces in the G.A.R.  When complete it will hold most of the HVAC system for the building and mostly serve as passage way to the turrets and up to the roof. DSC_0897 The attic ceiling is about 20 feet high at the peak, has phenomenal curved walls outside the turrets and virgin pine joists, some as large as 12″ square. Take a look around.  Sadly, this one stays off the tour.

Photos by Mindfield’s 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.

7 thoughts on “THE CHANGELING…

  1. I love looking out from historic buildings and imagining what the building has “seen” go by since they were put up. Having its eyes closed being boarded up and now open again to watch the street and feeling all the new activity stirring up long settled dust and spirits. Not the spirits of former guests and residents, but the spirits of the building itself; the materials and their origins coming together to be placed by human hands and efforts to complete this piece of enduring history. Carriages,automobiles, wars, civil unrest, abandonment and now rebirth.

    I hope the new lessees re-think the 50’s style diner- sounds really dreadful.

  2. I’ve been watching the restoration of this building for months. I’m so very happy you’re doing such a wonderful job. Today’s post reminds me of a conversation I had with my husband about four years ago. We were talking about how cool it would be to own the G.A.R. My husband wanted to use one of the turrets for a barbecue grilling area. 😉

    Thank you for saving one of Detroit’s magnificent buildings.

  3. Love all that you are doing.

  4. We should shoot a horror movie in the GAR before you finish it! Or at least some raw footage to be pieced together later. I’m up for it… are you?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s