The War Memorial in Grosse Pointe Farms, in partnership with the Alger family, is developing a $23-million event and cultural facility at its campus along the shores of Lake St. Clair.
The 25,000 square feet of physical space for the new center will feature a contemporary building design to encompass the legacy of the ancestral home of the Alger family. Features will include newly designed grounds and garden, a waterside park, and an art installation.
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 opening is planned for Spring 2022.
The War Memorial originally broke ground on the project in late 2020. The goal of the development is to create a contemporary gathering space while honoring the spirit of the original Alger home. It will also serve as a center for world-class arts and culture, a venue for important conversations on public issues, community bridge-building, and a destination for more reflective and inclusive patriotism.
Leadership gifts, championed by the Alger family, and funding from campaign efforts, support the total project.
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.
The original 1910 home, called The Moorings, was designed by Charles A. Platt. It was commissioned by and served as the home of Russell Alger Jr., his wife, Marion, and their three children. The estate was donated to the public in 1949 as a community center and war memorial.
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.
Working in tandem with the Alger family, The War Memorial will enhance on the original goal of providing access to arts, culture, and humanities on both a regional and national stage.
“Our continued and promising partnership with the Alger family allows our team to articulate on the ideals set forth over 70 years ago: creating a gathering space built on stewardship and innovation,” says Charles Burke, president and CEO of The War Memorial.
“Building upon our sense of curiosity, as well as the ethos of the family, we remain committed to honoring the family home, cultivating a diverse program of arts and cultural events, and moving forward into an audacious future.”
The partnership intends to ensure the longevity of both the Alger name and the cultural and patriotic programming of The War Memorial. To learn more, visit here.
The War Memorial attracts more than 3,000 events and 250,000 visitors annually, while offering premier hospitality services for community and private gatherings. Its diverse lineup of innovative programming includes live and virtual engagement experiences for adults and children.
At its core, The War Memorial celebrates the ideas of American democracy while honoring those who have defended those ideas with tireless effort and personal sacrifice. Numerous patriotic and veterans’ events are held as well as history and civics offerings on the origin, traditions, and challenges facing American democracy.
Russell Alexander Alger was honored in 1921 with a memorial fountain on the east side of Grand Circus Park in downtown Detroit. The design team included architect Henry Bacon and sculptor Daniel Chester French.
A chronological history of Detroit from its founding in 1701 to 1900 when it became the world’s largest manufacturing economy is detailed in “Detroit: Engine of America,” published by Momentum Books in Troy and available at www.DetroitEngineofAmerica.com.