DARK BEGINNING FOR 2020
With everything that is going on, here at home and overseas, it is hard to find a ray of sunshine for the start of the New Year. Usually there is something positive to get a reader’s attention. As you can see from the picture, I am reminded of olden times when they “circled the wagons”, took refuge in a Fort or behind castle walls in times of trouble. Those days are gone but we do have a “castle” in downtown Detroit. A historic landmark that is, thankfully, not being turned into high priced housing with office space below. Most people refer to it has Detroit’s Castle but it’s actually the G.A.R. building – Grand Army of the Republic Building. The building is so named because after the civil war there were no veterans groups’, or VA anything. The union veterans formed a group called the Grand Army of the Republic. It became an important organization with political clout, nearly 500,000 members by 1899, when the Detroit building was started. It featured shops, veterans meeting space, a small auditorium and a bank on the ground floor. They utilized it until the early 1940’s. After the GAR was dissolved, it was taken over by the city of Detroit and turned into a welfare office and then a parks and recreation center until its closure in 1982. It was vacant for thirty years.
Today, it is owned by Mindfield, a small advertising and marketing firm in Detroit. They purchased the historic building in 2011 and started the lengthy renovation process. It houses the Mindfield offices, two restaurants and will have multiple event spaces. Owners also plan to open a Memorial Hall & Museum that will be a tribute to the Civil War.
Some of the artifacts were found forgotten or fallen behind bookcases. Many contributions have come in. The best artifact is the building itself and the memories of the civil war veterans. As people get further away from that generation the artifacts are not less important but they have less value to some people. We need to remember our history in order to go forward into the future.
The two restaurants, Republic Tavern and the Parks & Rec Diner, both reflect the buildings history and were opened in 2015. For reservations check with Google for phone numbers.
The GAR building is a historical gem and I hope you found this information interesting.
As for the months ahead I sincerely hope our new year becomes brighter with many positive possibilities for a better tomorrow.
Til next time. Michelle
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