The War Memorial in Grosse Pointe Farms announced gifts Monday evening totaling $20 million from Fred M. Alger, founder of the Wall Street firm Alger Management and a prominent member of the Alger family, to construct a 25,000 square-foot addition, set to open in Spring 2022.
“I am incredibly moved by the sense of adventure and can-do attitude of The War Memorial and am honored to play a role in supporting the legacy of my ancestral home and writing the next chapter of possibilities,” says Alger. “It has been a pleasure to work with The War Memorial during this transformational time and I am proud to be a leading part of its bright future.”
The new facility, to be called the Fred M. Alger Center for Arts, Culture, and Humanities at The War Memorial,will feature an improved garden and grounds, a new waterside park along the shores of Lake St. Clair, and a public art installation coming later.
Along with the facility, the gifts — one of $12 million and an additional $8 million donated at an event on May 24 — will be put towards art and culture offerings, programming around the issues of democracy.
“We are grateful for Mr. Alger’s investment in the future of this institution as an accessible place of belonging for everyone from everywhere,” says Charles Burke, president and CEO of The War Memorial. “It is investments like these that will further ensure The War Memorial remains relevant in meeting the needs of surrounding communities both near and far.”
In addition to new construction, renovations will provide a new main entranceway, a reflection room, a new community room, a remodeled ballroom (featuring a lakeside terrace), and a waterside park.
The War Memorial serves an estimated 250,000 people per year and holds more than 3,000 private and public functions annually. These include programs to honor veterans, engagement experiences for adults and children, community events like live performances, and philanthropic programs and events.
The Moorings, home of Russell Alger Jr. and his wife, Marion, and their three children, was constructed in 1910 and donated to the public in 1949 as a community center and war memorial. The new facility is intended to bring longevity to both the Alger’s philanthropic efforts and the programs run by The War Memorial.
“The Fred M. Alger Center at The War Memorial will aspire to connect us all through programming fueled by curiosity and a sense of humble service, particularly as we carefully emerge out of this pandemic and time of fear,” says Burke.
The new facility design was conceptualized by Rossetti, a Detroit-based architectural firm, while the contractor is Rochester-based Frank Rewold & Sons. The construction representative, Wesley Lawrence, is responsible for the project oversite.
As part of the family’s legacy, Alger Jr., Henry Joy, and Truman Newberry were instrumental in convincing Packard Motor Car Co. to move to Detroit from Ohio in 1902. Packard went on to build a 3.5-million-square-foot manufacturing campus at E. Grand Boulevard, east of Mount Elliott Street.
Alger Jr.’s father, Russell Alexander Alger (1836-1907), served as a U.S. Senator from Michigan (1902-1907), U.S. Secretary of War (1897-1899), and 20th Governor of Michigan (1885-1887). A decorated Civil War veteran who resigned with the rank of Brevet Major General in 1864, Alger was born in poverty, lost his parents when he was 12 years old, raised his younger brother and sister, and became a lawyer, and an owner of large lumber and rail concerns.
To learn more about the future The Fred M. Alger Center for Arts, Culture and Humanities at The War Memorial, visit www.warmemorial.org/future. For more about the War Memorial, visit www.warmemorial.org.