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Building Conservation Associates

Grand Army of the Republic Memorial

Location: Chicago, Illinois
Original Architect: Shepley Rutan and Coolidge
Year Built: 1897

The Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Hall (GAR) consists of four rooms on the second floor of Chicago Cultural Center. The building was constructed in 1897 as the Chicago Public Library, replacing the public reading room lost during the Great Fire of 1871. The series of rooms known as GAR serve as a memorial to the veterans of the Union Army. GAR begins with a foyer, leading to the Lobby, which is decorated with ornamental plaster lunettes and bas-reliefs commemorating the Union Army. The focal point of the Lobby is the stained-glass dome, situated on top of a circular plaster cornice composed of multiple plain and ornamental cast-iron moldings.

BCA performed a comprehensive analysis for the GAR to identify the original finishes, including all plaster, wood, metal dome, and metal window elements. This information was used to guide the restoration of original finishes at the GAR during the construction phase of the project. BCA also provided technical specifications for replication of the historic finishes and helped develop the plaster consolidation treatment process through analysis, research, and testing during construction.

Award: Craftsmanship 2023 Palladio Award, Traditional Building