The GAR Hall was dedicated in 1889. Inside the hall there is an 1884 post charter signed by the 16 men who had been members of the Union Grand Army of the Republic. Circling the room is a
collection of unmatched chairs. Each member of the GAR supplied his own chair and painted the name and company on the back. When he died, the survivors added his date of death.
There are three maple trees planted in memory of General Grant, General Sherman and General Sheridan.
Two cannons originally used in the Mexican conflict were donated by the federal government shortly after the building was erected. When the cannons arrived, they came with a shipping bill of $1250. The railroad would not unload the cargo until the bill was paid. Undaunted, the veterans raised the money in the local community. The cannons stand as sentinels in front of the building, mounted on stone pedestals inscribed with the names of the veterans.
A plaque on the side of the GAR Hall attests to the post's history, chartered in 1884 and disbanded in 1934. The post has, however, never been neglected. The sons and daughters, now grand children and great grandchildren of the veterans continue to use the building.
The first group to build and use the structure from 1899-1934 was the Samuel W Grinnell Post 283 GAR. The Woman's Relief Corps number 62 used the building from 1899-1925.
From 1918 to 1925 the Samuel Grinnell Camp Number 17 Sons of Union Veterans of the USA met in the Sunfield hall. The Helen M Edwins Tent Number 30 Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War have held meeting there since 1926. It is believed to be the only such GAR hall in Michigan to have been in use continuously since 1899 by the GAR and its allied unions.
The GAR Hall has been open to the public different years during Michigan Week since 1957. On May 13, 1961, it was open to honor the Civil War Centennial. Since 1981 the 6th grade students and teachers have been invited to the GAR Hall in May. The teachers have a unit on the Civil War prior to this date. Members of DUV Tent # 30 tell the history of the GAR Hall, the cannons, and the trees. We have many items and pictures that relate to that area we discuss. A letter is read that was written by a Civil War Veteran while in prison. This helps to make the Civil War very real to the students. Every year the students have received a small American Flag and a brochure about the history, care and use of the flag. On Feb 20, 1962, the Sunfield 5th grade was presented with a deed of 1 sq foot of land at Gettysburg from DUV Tent # 30.
We have many original items of furniture and paraphernalia used by the Samuel W Grinnell Post 283 in the GAR hall plus many Civil War Era items that have been donated to Tent # 30. We have some of the original minutes of the Post and a donation book listing donations by the members of the Post.
On May 30, 1987, a State Historical Marker naming the GAR hall as a Historical Building was dedicated through the cooperating of SUVCW Curtenius Guard Camp # 17 and DUVCW Helen M Edwins Tent # 30 and donations from the community.
At the unveiling of the Historical Marker in 1987, the youngest member of the DUVCW, 12 year old Nancy Hengesbach and the oldest member of the DUVCW, her 83 year old great Grandmother, Martha Van Buren, did the honors. Both are members of the DUVCW.
Submitted by Carol Santini, June 2014