The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Hall stands at the east end of Michigan Avenue in Marshall.
The Grand Army of the Republic was a fraternal organization composed of United States veterans who served in the American Civil War. Founded in 1866, it was dissolved in 1956 when its last member died. Marshall’s GAR post, Colegrove Post No. 166, began in October 1883 and continued for another 41 years.
The building is located at the intersection of Exchange Street and Michigan Avenue, east of Carver Park. Constructed in 1902 at a cost of $3,000, the red brick building was dedicated March 17, 1903. A Parrott Rifle cannon was placed on the west side of the hall in 1906, donated by the U. S. Government and shipped from the arsenal at the Watervliet, New York.
In 1911 the city erected a monument to the veterans of the First Regiment Michigan Engineers and Mechanics in the form of a boulder with bronze plaque. This unit - assisting the Union by the mechanical construction of bridges, boats, and forts, among other items - was organized and entered into Federal service at Marshall on October 29, 1861, departing for Louisville, Kentucky on December 17, 1861 with 1,032 men and officers. The unit was mustered out of service on July 30, 1865.
The building went on to house numerous groups: Woman's Relief Corps (1905), Gospel Center Church (1936), Char Toe Dance Studio (1939), Veterans of Foreign Wars (1946), the Seventh Day Adventist Church (1967), and the Marshall Art Center (1975). It was obtained from the city in 1976 and is now the Marshall Historical Society’s archival center and military museum. It received a state historical marker in 1983. There are artifacts from the Civil War, Spanish American War, World War I and World War II, along with other Marshall memorabilia. A number of items are in the museum, including the bicycle of John Bellairs.
The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW) is the legal successor to the GAR and is composed of over 200 community-based camps across the country. Marshall's Colegrove-Woodruff Camp No. 22 currently uses the GAR Hall for its meetings.
A sign out front the museum honors three local soldiers and the namesakes of the GAR and SUVCW posts:
- Calvin Colegrove (1828-61), a native of New York who grew up in Marshall, was color sergeant (flag bearer) in the First Michigan Infantry Company I and the first local man to die in the war (Battle of First Bull Run).
- George A. Woodruff (1840-63), a native of Marshall and West Point graduate was killed on the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg.
- Deville Hubbard (1830-84), formerly of New York, was captain of the first volunteer company from Marshall, the First Michigan Infantry Company I. The men were greeted by President Abraham Lincoln when they arrived in Washington as the “first from the West.”
- A similar building stands in New Zebedee, though it is only seen from afar and not discussed in depth.
- Colgrove-Woodruff Camp No. 22.