Mindfield begins renovation of GAR building in downtown

The rebirth of the GAR building, one of downtown Detroit's most iconic small structures, has begun and will soon become obvious through extensive work to its exterior.

Mindfield, the creative agency that currently calls the floors above Vincente's home, is redeveloping the five-story Romanesque building into its new home. The GAR, Grand Army of the Republic, was built as a meeting place for Union Army veterans of the Civil War at Grand River and Cass avenues. The city took control of it by the 1930s and it has been vacant for the last few decades caught up in legal battles.

"The building was a mess when we took it over so we're doing a lot of cleanup and abatement," says David Carleton, executive director of Mindfield. "There was a lot of water damage, bird poop and asbestos there. We're preparing the canvass to paint."

Mindfield will occupy about one quarter of the building and is looking to lease out two other floors. Space in the 25,000-square-foot structure will also be set aside for a restaurant and a Civil War memorial. Mindfield hopes to move in by November of next year.

"You will see some visible signs of improvement very soon," says Sean Emery, post director of Mindfield.

In the mean time, the firm plans to restore the GAR building to its original grandeur. That will start soon with some exterior stone and roof work. Mindfield's co-founders also plan to restore the building's original windows to maintain its original architectural character.

"It would be a crime to take a building that is this grand and iconic in downtown Detroit and take the cheapest way out," says Tom Carleton, creative director of Mindfield. "We're not going to slap the cheapest windows in the building."

You can follow Mindfield's efforts to restore the GAR building here.

Source: Tom Carleton, Sean Emery and David Carleton, co-founders of Mindfield
Writer: Jon Zemke

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