The G.A.R. Building Detroit

The Grand Army of the Republic


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Most people are surprised to see how spartan the interior finishes are at the Grand Army building in Detroit. While it sat empty for 30 years, passersby had lots of time to imagine how cool it must look on the inside. While it IS very cool inside, it is not overly ornate in it’s design.

The one space, fittingly, where there are a few more details is the Assembly Hall, or theatre on the top floor. This space will soon be home to the Mindfield offices. Both the balcony front and the coved ceilings have great plaster molding details. While a lot of it survived the “empty years” there are large gaps which need to be filled in.

Last week, our “plaster” guy set up shop in the former theatre. Dave claims he has been a fan of the castle since he was a kid. He says he has built models of castles and always dreamed of working on this one. We’re happy to have him on the team.
DSC_5176These are a few original sections of molding which are being used in creating new molds.

Templates have been made from drywall to get exact replicas of the shape and size.  The one on top has been marked
as “perfect”.

DSC_5170From the templates, these forms are made and are being used to shape fresh plaster into finished trim.

These wood frames act act a skeleton for the plaster.  Once the plaster is cured, the new sections will be screwed in
place and fill the gaps between the original molding.

DSC_5163The workshop.

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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