Media production firm Mindfield purchased the Grand Army of the Republic Building just four years ago, and are approaching completion of their renovation of the 117-year-old Richardson Romanesque Revival "castle." Today, the first floor houses a well-reviewed addition to Detoit's restaurant scene, Chef Chef Sarah Welch's Republic, while Mindfield occupies the fourth and fifth stories. The third floor still awaits restoration, as do the turrets, but the Mindfield offices are complete, and the grand space they've created from the building's former auditorium and its balcony, complete with a full, open gallery above the main workspace, shows that a great deal of time, attention, money and (almost—but not quite—as importantly) love went into the project.
The building on the corner of Grand River and Cass opened as a Civil War veterans' hall in 1898. Designed by Julian Hess (and later overseen by another architect, Richard Raseman, after Hess died during construction), the building was paid for by members of Detroit's four Grand Army of the Republic groups (think 19th century VFW for civil war vets) and by the city. The building cost around $50K at the time of construction, and served as a gathering place for old civil war soldiers until the 1930s when most veterans of the war had died. The city owned the building from 1943, when the Department of Parks and Recreation took charge of the property, but by the early 1970s, the Grand Army of the Republic Building stood vacant. After decades of neglect, Mindfield's David Carleton and Sean Emery bought the building from the city in 2011 for $220,000.
The largest remaining project, the third floor, awaits renovation. If the restoration continues at the level of quality and care taken with the of the structure's occupied spaces, the Grand Army of the Republic Building will once again stand as a crown jewel of Detroit architecture and design.
·Restored Castle Opens a Tavern, Gains Furniture [Curbed Detroit]
·Behold Republic, the Meaty New Tavern at the GAR [Eater Detroit]
·GAR Undergoing Renovations [Contributoria]
·GAR History [Forgotten Detroit]
·GAR Building [Detroit 1701]
·GAR "Before" Pix, Pre-Renovation [Detroiturbex]