In honor of Veterans’ Day, we have unearthed a series of cabinet cards depicting the 1891 National Encampment of the Grand Army of the Republic in Detroit. As the Civil War was just twenty-six years past, the organization’s ranks were sizable, as was the turn out of the crowd. This first photo of the Michigan Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument in Campus Martius attests to that. Notice the building on the right, that’s the old Central Market Building. This building used to stand at the mouth of Cadillac Square, on the site of the City Hall which predated the one you may remember between Fort and Michigan.
As part of the celebration, temporary triumphal arches were erected on several streets around downtown. This one on Woodward between John R and Witherell looks impressively permanent. While some of the photos in this series had written memories of an anonymous donor on the back providing context, this one was unfortunately blank. Fortunately, the sign for a druggist by the name C.W. Maynard on the left with a little help from the 1891 city directory provided the information needed to figure out the cross streets.
My favorite of the arches set up by the G.A.R., was the one positioned at Woodward and Jefferson. This one added an obelisk to its top, decorated with Civil War scenes including the battle between the Monitor and Merrimack. You can spot a pair of the old horse-drawn streetcars passing underneath the arch.
And yes, we do have more from this series, as well as a whole lot more which will be available when our digital collection goes live in May as part of our Past>Forward Campaign! Please continue checking back for more news about this exciting project!
Did you attend last week’s Veterans’ Day parade or do you have any Detroit Veterans’ Day memories? If so we’d love to hear about it in the comments.