The G.A.R. Building Detroit

The Grand Army of the Republic



DSC_4366For years we have walked through the lobby of the G.A.R. building in Detroit and wondered what once sat up on the newel at the base of the stairs. The sides have ornate wood carvings but the top is unfinished. Something clearly sat atop it once

but we have had no pictures to tell us what to replace and how to finish it.

This past week – we found the answer. Quite unexpectedly.DSC_5511The 3 of us are often asked out to speak about the renovation of the castle. When schedules allow between Mindfield and family events, we like to go out and tell the building’s story (and get people excited to eat in Republic and the Parks and Rec diner).

This past week we were with a group in Grosse Point and at the close of the evening a woman approached us, said she used to work for the city, would visit the different Parks and Rec centers and had fond memories of walking though the G.A.R..DSC_5512Then she hit us with the question “Does the carved pineapple still sit at the base of the stairs?”

“WHAT?”, we asked…

“The pineapple, is it still in the lobby?” she repeated.

In a single moment, she had unknowingly helped us solve one of the biggest mysteries we had to date in the building’s renovations.

Sometimes you have to leave a place to learn things about it.DSC_5517
P.S. – If anyone has any information leading to the recovery and replacement (and verification) of the original wooden pineapple we will gladly arrange for a delicious, real pineapple dessert to be prepared specifically for you by Republic’s Chef de Excellence, Kate Williams! Yum!

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.

6 thoughts on “WHO’S GOT THE PINEAPPLE?

  1. That’s amazing!

  2. It makes sense. A quick Google search on “civil war pineapple symbol” led to this:
    and this:
    There must be somebody in Detroit who could make a new one.
    Love these posts, can’t wait till the restaurants open.

  3. Will you replace the pineapple?

  4. What a great story/question. You never know who knows what! So, do you have someone to carve a new pineapple?

  5. A beautiful story, beautifully told.

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