The G.A.R. Building Detroit

The Grand Army of the Republic



DSC_0885Can’t keep all the fun on the inside of Detroit’s G.A.R. building…the sidewalks were showing their signs of age (40 or 50 years old at best!) and starting to get in the way.DSC_0891We’ve actually been waiting for some time to get a team in and tear up the concrete, but the nasty winter weather kept getting in the way.DSC_0933So, the sidewalks are gone, there’s a fresh layers of gravel in it’s place. From this point, we’ll work through that as the new utilities continue to go in and we look at what’s left to happen in the basement.DSC_0881As we get closer to Mindfield’s fall move-in, we’ll replace the concrete (perhaps add some trees) and make it be the polished approach to the building which it deserves.

Sorry – no moat.

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.


  1. As a member of the Son Of The Union Veterans it is heart warm to watch the restoration of this grand old historic building. I look forward to when you have your grand opening. I would like to attend that opening. I would love to come in full G.A.R. regalia and have a meal. — Have you ever though of having a formal G.A.R./SUV meeting to compliment your opening?

  2. Great progress.

    Being a transplant from Indianapolis that was heavily involved in many historic preservation projects, I am TOTALLY SHOCKED to see dirt under a building sidewalk.
    I can tell you for a fact that the vast majority of every building in downtown Indy has the basement extended under the sidewalk. This allowed receiving to be done through doors in the walks minimizing disruption to tenants and customers by deliveries. The walks were also required to be built as a structural bridge to hold fire trucks.

  3. John – We are in the midst of planning a “grand opening” event for this fall. Stand by for details and thanks for your kind words.

  4. We’re learning (as recently as today) that the basement and sidewalk vaults have been modified many times over the years for any numbers of reasons. While the G.A.R. has only a partial basement, it is clear that there were a number of spots which did extend under the sidewalk. Some have been back-filled, others remain open. The Grand River frontage has very little basement access. Detroit actually does not allow (by code) access to the basement via a sidewalk “doors”.

  5. Put me down for being notified when the gala re-opening dates and plans are set. I’ll drive or fly in from Minnesota. :-)….. Re: the sidewalks. Totally understand about tearing out the old ones. (Every 50 years ya just gotta let go!). And yes, a quick concrete pour will put in a new set, etc. etc. Just wondering though if a set of brick pavers sort of thing might be more inviting? Or, since you found the original quarry for filling in holes and repairing damage on the building itself, does the quarry have crushed aggregate of the same stone that could be made part of the sidewalks? IOW, make the sidewalks match the stone of the building? I have no idea of this is feasible or even asthetically a good idea, but since everything’s torn up anyway and it will be a few months until the new walks go in, I just thought I’d throw this out (or into the mix ! :-))

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