Grand Army of the Republic Building
Grand Army of the Republic Building
|Location||1942 West Grand River Avenue
|Architect||Julian Hess & Richard Raseman|
|Architectural style||Romanesque Revival|
|NRHP Reference #||86000262|
|Added to NRHP||February 13, 1986|
The GAR Building was designed by architect Julian Hess, and constructed at 1942 West Grand River and Cass as an appropriate structure for meetings and other GAR related activities. The 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.
As GAR membership was restricted to veterans of the Civil War Union Army, their numbers dwindled through the beginning part of the 20th century. By the 1930s, the GAR had vacated the building and the city took ownership. The GAR building was added to the National Register of Historic Places on February 13, 1986. More recently the city has attempted to sell the building, but a coalition including the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War and the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War brought suit against the city of Detroit to block sale of the building, claiming that a clause in the 1898 deed on the building stated that city must preserve the building as a memorial to Civil War veterans.
This Richardsonian Romanesque-designed building lies on a small, triangular lot on the northwest side of downtown Detroit. Originally built for the Grand Army of the Republic club members in Detroit, the building included 13 shops and a bank of the ground floor, office space on the second and third floors, and a small auditorium on the fourth floor. By 1934, only a few GAR members were still alive and the building was given to the City of Detroit. The building was then used by the GAR Memorial Association, a women's group that used it until 1973.
The Detroit Free Press reported on April 7, 2007 that the GAR Building had been sold to Olympia Development, an arm of Ilitch Holdings, Inc. for a price of $220,500. The Ilitch family also owns the Detroit Red Wings and the Detroit Tigers, as well as the United Artists Theatre Building.
Olympia Development expected to renovate the building at a cost of $2 million, and use it to house staff, though the purchase of the GAR by the Ilitch family was later rescinded. The property was then sold to Mindfield USA, a Detroit-based media company in November 2011 for $220,000, who plan to renovate the building for use as its headquarters.
The firm began a $2 million to $3 million renovation immediately after purchase, with opening slated for 2014. It will occupy the top two floors of the structure, lease the ground floor for retail and a restaurant and dedicate a memorial to Civil War Veterans. The company documented progress of the renovations on a Posterous blog page, but Posterous was shut down on 2013, so progress remains unknown.
- Staff (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
- Jenny Nolan (28 Jan 1997). "The Grand Army of the Republic". detnews.com. Retrieved 15 Oct 2010.
- Dan Austin. "Grand Army of the Republic Building". HistoricDetroit.org. Retrieved 2012-08-03.
- Jason Carr (27 July 2012). "Detroit's GAR Building getting a new life". WJBK (posterous). Retrieved 2012-08-02.
- National Register listing
- Information on the GAR building
- Forgotten Detroit
- Inside the GAR at Detroiturbex.com
- Mindfield USA
- Mindfield's blog about the building's ongoing renovation