The Flag-Raising Ceremony at the Detroit G.A.R. Building, November 3, 2012

Sign posted on front of the Detroit G.A.R. Building


November 3, 2012-the day that saw the American flag fly once again over the old historic G.A.R. Building in Detroit.  The flag hadn’t been posted there for years. The building was vacant. Pigeons and vermin were the occupants of the place. Maybe there were ghosts-ghosts of the old Civil War veterans that met there to remember what they did to save the Union. The ghosts of those brave souls could not have been happy… All that has changed. The building is being renovated. It now has windows! Mindfield and NewGAR, LLC are involved in the work:

Work being done on the G.A.R. Building, Nov. 3, 2012

B. Nash




And so there was a ceremony to commemorate the flag raising-a Dedication Event. Participants included: the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, Reenactment Units, Detroit Cass Tech ROTC, and Units from Historic Fort Wayne Coalition.  Bruce Butgereit, Consultant/Historian, gave the welcoming, history of the G.A.R. Building, and closing to the ceremony. His wife, Marcia Butgereit, Past National President of the Woman’s Relief Corps, supplied patriotic commentary. Also, David Carleton, Partner/Executive Producer of Mindfield, provided the building project update. Then there followed the Presentation of the Colors with Keith G. Harrison, Officer of the Guard/MOLLUS.  The National Anthem was performed by singer/songwriter Michelle Penn, who accompanied herself on electric guitar.  A military salute was given. Songs were sung. Then the flag was raised. What a sight to behold;

The Stars & Stripes waves once again!

The following G.A.R. information (by Bruce Butgereit) is copied from the Dedication Event handout distributed to those who attended:



The Department of Michigan was created in Detroit on October 1, 1867 and suspended by the National organization on May 6, 1868. The Department was reorganized in Grand Rapids on January 22, 1879. The Department would close when the last Civil War veteran of Michigan to serve in a Michigan Regiment, Orlando LeValley, would pass away April 19, 1948 at the age of ninety-nine.

Comrade LeValley served as the Commander of the Department in 1942 and then 1945-1948.



Detroit would have five Grand Army of the Republic Posts. The first would be the Fairbanks Post No. 17; organized on May 9, 1881. The Fairbanks Post continued until it’s last member Augustus F. Chappell died in January of 1942.

The next Post would be F.U. Farquhar Post No. 162; organized in 1883. The John Brown Post No. 184 was a “colored post,” with the membership roster being freed slaves who had served in the Union Army. The Detroit Post No. 384 was established in 1887 and was often known as the Millionaires Post or the Silk Stockings Post with membership limited to 150 comrades. Other Posts included Michigan Post No. 393, John C. Fremont Post No. 406, and O.M. Post No. 433.



As a member of the Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War and current Camp Commander of Camp 2 (General Israel B. Richardson Camp), Department of Michigan, I was honored to be among my fellow SUV brothers and all the participants and observers at the raising of the United States flag over Detroit’s G.A.R. Building. Too long had the building been dormant. It seemed that the “glory had departed.” I was a frequent visitor to the site over the years. I remember picking up cement off the sidewalk in front of the building that had fallen off the structure from above. I remember the boarded-up windows and entryway. And honestly, I didn’t think there was much hope. I sat down one warm day by the building’s cornerstone and offered a prayer. Really, I was asking for a miracle. I could see no way for the building to be saved without some divine intervention. I felt that the old G.A.R. veterans were there beside me. I even felt my own Civil War Union ancestors joined in. “Please God, make a way to save this place”-was my whisper to above. Now I don’t really know that the good Lord answered just my plea. I probably was one of many who offered the same prayer. I’m just glad it has happened. I’m looking forward to going inside the place. It is scheduled to open sometime in 2013. There is slated to be a G.A.R. Museum established within.  I want to thank God and all those human agents who are part of this effort to bring the “glory” back. I think the G.A.R. old timers would have tears now-of joy.  Bill Nash (SUVCW)

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2 Responses to “The Flag-Raising Ceremony at the Detroit G.A.R. Building, November 3, 2012”

  1. B. Nash says:

    Thanks, Kevin. We certainly have good reason to be happy that this is being done. Can’t wait to attend it’s opening!

  2. Kevin Lindsey says:

    I am so glad that they are rehabilitating the building! And I thank God and the people working for it too. Nice article!

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