The Monuments Men, the movie with George Clooney and Matt Damon, was based on the book The Monuments Men : Allied heroes, Nazi thieves, and the greatest treasure hunt in history by Robert M. Edsel.
The real Monuments Men were a group of men and women from thirteen nations, most of them volunteers, who were museum directors, curators, art scholars and educators, artists, architects, and archivists. These mostly middle-aged family men, walked away from successful careers into the epicenter of the war, risking—and some losing—their lives. They raced against time in order to save the world’s greatest cultural treasures from destruction at the hands of Nazi regime.
Two of these brave men lived among us quietly for decades, one, Charles Sawyer was previously blogged about here, the second was Ralph Hammett.
Professor Hammett taught in the architecture department at U of M starting in 1931, with a hiatus to join the army in 1943, and retired from the University in 1965. His work as one of the Monuments Men and a noted architect will be forever remembered in Ann Arbor having designed some homes as well as buildings such as an addition to the Ann Arbor (then Women's) City Club on Washtenaw, the St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church parish hall and chapel, the Lloyd Douglas Memorial Chapel, and the Lutheran Student Center. He also designed the Abraham Lincoln Memorial in Springfield, Illinois. He was named “Architect of the Year” in 1957 by the Michigan Society of Architects. Hammett died in 1984. You can read Old News articles about him here. There is also an extensive website created by his grandson here.