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Grand Army of the Republic Building (GAR Building)

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GAR Building
1896–1900, Julius Hess of Hess and Raseman. 1924 Grand River Ave.
  • (Photograph by Balthazar Korab)

At their state encampment held in Detroit in 1891, Michigan Civil War veterans lobbied the city for a memorial meeting building. The result was the largest GAR meeting hall in Michigan. It was financed with city bonds. The designer was well-known Detroit architect Hess (1841–1899), who was born and trained in Zurich. Hess created a massive, fortress-like structure that conforms in plan to its triangular-shaped site. The Richardsonian Romanesque building has two large, crenellated engaged towers flanking the slightly projecting, pedimented main pavilion. The building's exterior walls are beautifully laid with carefully cut, rock-faced, gray limestone and tan sandstone.

Vacant since 1973, the building fell into disrepair. In 2006 the city sold it to Olympia Development, owned by Michael and Marian Ilitch, with the proviso the company invest $2 million in its redevelopment as offices. In 2008, after that deal collapsed, the Carleton brothers offered to purchase the hall for reuse as a restaurant, offices, gift shop, and exhibit space for Civil War memorabilia.

Writing Credits

Kathryn Bishop Eckert


What's Nearby


Kathryn Bishop Eckert, "Grand Army of the Republic Building (GAR Building)", [Detroit, Michigan], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Michigan

Buildings of Michigan, Kathryn Bishop Eckert. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012, 68-68.

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