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Castellation complex

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Forgive us, but the Abandoned Structure Squad has a thing for turrets. We’re sure a shrink could explain this edifice complex. On the other hand, who wouldn’t be intrigued by this week’s object d’ abandonment, which has more than a little bit of history attached. The GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) Building stands at the corner of Cass and Grand River, on a small triangle of land once occupied by the Cass Farm. A visit to the Woodward Heritage Web site (www.woodwardheritage.com) revealed much about the building.

For example, Architect Julius Hess designed the structure, also known as “the castle,” and it is considered a great example of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture. The building is characterized by heavy stone walls, arches and towers. (We can’t help but think of Rapunzel.) It was constructed for a mere $44,000 at the end of the 19th century, and is valued today at nearly $265,000. The GAR, a group founded for men who fought with the North during the Civil War, petitioned the City of Detroit to build the memorial in 1891. Originally used for parties and meetings by veterans groups, the building became part of the Detroit Parks and Recreation Department in 1943 for use as a recreation center. The building has been vacant since 1973, and remains on the list of properties owned by the City of Detroit. In honor of Veteran’s Day, we note that on the southeast corner of the building, near the door, is an inscription that reads “Memorial to the soldiers and sailors of 1861-1865.”

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