The G.A.R. Building Detroit

The Grand Army of the Republic



DSC_8397Somehow, after more than 100 years and 30 years worth of break-ins, the stairway at Detroit’s G.A.R. building remained almost entirely intact. Our teams may have replaced 12 spindles. Aside from that, the work done to them was about stripping the wood and refinishing the stain and protective coating.DSC_8382Before the common areas become too cluttered with “finishing touches” we thought we’d show off what is currently the highlight… the staircase.DSC_8373These photos will lead you from the lobby up to the third floor.DSC_8367Imagine the aged men with white hair steadying themselves as the climbed these steps and met with their fellow Civil War veterans.DSC_8349(Note: we do have a replacement “pineapple”for the lobby – it’s being stored a bit longer as we still have trades carrying gear past where it will live)

All photos by Lindsey Yeo

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SAW Detroit’s G.A.R. has been modified quite a bit over the last 100 years.  A few walls added here… a door moved from one spot to another… we have actually discovered some great old wallpaper that had been covered up at one point by a soffit (we’ll post pictures of that soon).  Last year we demo’d and removed any “added” walls to get the building as close to the original floor plan as possible.Saw_sparks
holeToday, our teams broke through one of the wall on the first floor.  The goal was to create an access point to the basement from one of the restaurants.  Cool power tools but messy work.DSC_8842
DSC_8814Check out the shot from the basement… creepy looking!bricksonstairs

Photos by Mindfield’s Matt Reznik & Lindsey Yeo



Okay, so maybe it’s taking a bit more than one coat of paint…but these images (one photo and one computer rendering) are a glimpse of what we’re calling the “starting” and the “finish” line at Mindfield’s soon-to-be new offices.

As found…
…and as finished.



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

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DSC_9612Detroit’s G.A.R. received a big delivery Tuesday morning with the arrival of 8 custom made doors to restore the entrances to the building. Over the years, the exterior doors had been stripped of their hardware, pushed in, pulled out, nailed shut and generally the victim of weather rot as they sat in decades of rain and snow.Sequence 1 11We hired a Grand Rapids company, Raven Millwork, to build the replacements. Their team constructed 2 sets of double doors for the main arched-entrance along Grand River, 1 each for the restaurant outlets and 2 for the openings to what hopefully will be patio seating along the Adams Street side of the building.Sequence 1 17When the temporary plywood and visqueen is finally removed we’ll have restored the look and feel to what hundreds of Civil War veterans knew when they first saw the completed building in 1900.Sequence 1 13Tomorrow we take delivery of the remaining sheet glass for the storefronts. Those, along with the new doors will complete the exterior restoration of Detroit’s Grand Army of the Republic building.DSC_9629

Photos by Mindfield’s Lindsey Yeo and Matt Reznik

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DSC_9176The teams working to remove loose plaster from the G.A.R. building in downtown Detroit made an awesome new discovery last week. The trades found a previously unknown fireplace opening in one of what we call the “turret rooms”. There are 2 chases along Cass Ave. which we knew ran from the basement up through the roof but we were unaware how many (if any) of the spaces they had serviced in the past.

These images are from the third floor in a room on the corner of Grand River and Cass. The only thing that makes this find even more cool is the fireplace is in a room where there had been a large cigar humidor built by the “Boys in Blue”. Imagine these former soldiers sitting in front of a roaring fire, smoking cigars and having a scotch or 2. Priceless…

Initial plans are to restore the fireplace to its original (albeit non-working) look and feel.DSC_9174

All photos by Lindsey Yeo