The G.A.R. Building Detroit

The Grand Army of the Republic



DSC_8413The second display case set up in the lobby currently holds items “found” in the Detroit’s G.A.R. building during the renovation. Our construction team was great at setting aside items they would come across as they dug holes or tore through walls. Over the 2 or 3 years they amassed a few dozen items from the building’s past. We’ve put most of them out just to the right of the elevator.DSC_8411It’s a varied collection of artifacts. Some were of the building itself, many were things the workers would have thrown away while the were building the castle and of course, a handful are items used by the veterans and their associates during the period this was a G.A.R. Hall.DSC_8416The liquor bottles were found in the rafters up in the attic. These appear to be from the period AFTER the “Boys in Blue” used the building. And how do we know this? Well, if you’ve been to Republic for a drink… you too would know the veterans whiskey of choice was “White Horse”.DSC_8412They left remnants of the case behind when they hand crafted their own cigar humidors.

Resourceful gentlemen that they were.

All photos by Lindsey Yeo

Leave a comment


DSC_6207DSC_6285We’re going to hold off on any “wide shots” of Detroit’s G.A.R. Building for a while. As we near the home stretch with the finishes, we want to leave the big picture images until the end. The good news is Mindfield photog Lindsey has a great eye for the cool detail shots.DSC_6251DSC_6241It’s good to work with such talented people. Enjoy the limited look around.DSC_6290DSC_6221

All photos by Lindsey Yeo

1 Comment


DSC_5649 The most interesting thing about these pictures is that there are no trades in them. Considering the numbers of workers we have in the building right now, Mindfield photog Lindsey must have been there at lunch time today.  The building was oddly quiet.DSC_5685DSC_5744Just some progress shots from throughout the G.A.R. building in Detroit.DSC_5707Enjoy!DSC_5729-Edit

All photos by Lindsey Yeo

1 Comment


(Title of a great poem by AA Milne)DSC_5268Before you say anything – there’s no lead in the stain on the staircase – so please don’t worry about the lack of masks.  We have a serious team at the G.A.R. – they know what they’re doing and know we don’t want anyone getting sick.   🙂DSC_5264That being said – here’s an update on the restoration of the stairs themselves. We continue to be amazed at how many spindles survived the 30 year that the castle was boarded up.  They’re only having to shape a handful for the 3 flights of stairs.DSC_5269 The teams are working pretty well alongside one another.  Today the stair guys were working around scaffolding set by the wall guys, dodging the team carrying buckets of old plaster from the upper floors and avoiding the elevator guys walking up flights and installing the new lift.DSC_5274 We’re lucky to have such a great group of craftsmen.

All photos by Lindsey Yeo

Leave a comment


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



With the inspections picking up on most of the mechanical work, the teams putting the walls in place are back on site and helping us to get a better feel for the partitions in the building. The walls we’ve been imagining for years are now becoming reality.

The first two floors of the building to see life this fall will be the ground level with both the Republic Tavern and the Parks and Rec Diner and the the uppermost floor (the former assembly hall) which will soon the new home to our media firm, Mindfield.

With each new round of photos there are fewer tools and equipment strewn about. As you can see the mechanical elements are now found hung from the walls and ceiling and soon to be buried behind drywall.DSC_4567Photo taken of the diner interior from just inside the entrance. The opening to the left will be the restroom and the right will lead to the kitchen. The counter sits to the right along the Cass Street side.DSC_4587Soon to be restrooms in the Republic Tavern. They both sit behind the bar back. The opening to the far right leads to the kitchen.DSC_4573Interior shot of a section of the kitchen itself. Note how crowded the ceiling is becoming.DSC_4609This shot shows where the balcony in the Assembly Hall meets the wall running along Grand River. The restored plaster cove and new ceiling above. I think the fabric hanging there might be an old tablecloth we took over for a pizza party with the Mindfield staff. No idea why it’s still hanging there.DSC_4621Different angle on the same corner as above. The open trench is the ceiling will be filled with the plaster molding which is currently being recreated. In the bottom right of the photo, you can see the curved proscenium above the original stage.DSC_4623A close up of the coved ceiling with remnants of the plaster molding. The new sprinkler pipes sneak in from the left. Falcon Fire systems has just the attic and basement left before they’ve fully “sprinklered” the G.A.R. building.

All photos by Lindsey Yeo



IMG_7759Just when we think there is not much left to discover in Detroit’s G.A.R. building, she sends us a little bit of a surprise. Most recently Nick, our project manager, texted us photos of a detail he had uncovered.IMG_7781One of our favorite elements of the building has always been the columns found on all of the upper floors. Even under the decades of paint, their decorative capitols stand out and will make a great element to each of the new offices. On the first floor, in what will be the Republic Tavern, we have been walking around what look(ed) boring old square supports. Or so we thought.IMG_7791One day a few weeks back, Nick had a few free moments and a curiosity as to why these 4 or 5 were so ugly. And a hammer. This past week, we took the time to reveal a whole new aesthetic for the restaurant. An original detail for what was originally an open market will again see the light of day on the renovated first floor.IMG_7805Not sure if Nick reads this blog… if so, lunch is on us.IMG_7789
(and check out Nick’s t-shirt. He gets it!)

Photos by Mindfield’s Matt Reznik