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History & Tour

The Mansion is available by appointment in the afternoon for Guided "Champagne Tours" for parties of 4 or more. Champagne Tours are $10 include a glass of Champagne and take about 30–45 minutes to complete. Tours can be booked at 1:00 or 3:30 call a member of the Management team for more information or to reserve your tour.

The Whitney mansion is an impressive home on Woodward Avenue near downtown Detroit. The structure, completed in 1894, was designed for lumber baron David Whitney, Jr. and described by one newspaper account in 1894 as "the most elaborate and substantial residence in this part of the country." Created in the Romanesque style by respected Detroit architect Gordon W. Lloyd , the structure is built of South Dakota Jasper, a rare variety of pink granite which gives the outside of the House a striking rose hue. The exterior features a multi gabled roof and arched windows that add drama to the, already, luxurious facade. The 21,000 square foot home has 52 rooms, 218 windows, 20 fireplaces, a secret vault in the original dining room and an elevator. Construction took four years at a cost of $400,000.

The inside of the house is as impressive as the outside. A grand staircase dominates the Great Hall that is elaborately adorned with a bronze balustrade and is richly illuminated by colorful Tiffany stained glass panels on the second and third floors. The most impressive room, the Great Hall, is dominated by an ornate fireplace and mantelpiece which holds an antique bronze clock. The interior walls and ceilings of the rooms in the house are adorned with hand-woven silks, tapestries and other objects from the Whitney's extensive collection. The original electrification in the house was done by Thomas Edison who was a friend of David Whitney's.

David Whitney, Jr. was born in 1830 in Watertown, Massachusetts. In 1857, at the age of 27 he came to Detroit to take charge of the Western operations of two eastern seaboard lumber concerns. He was primarily responsible for purchasing timberlands and for the shipment of lumber. In the 1870's both firms were dissolved and Whitney began to invest in Michigan, Wisconsin and Oregon timberlands. He rapidly became the largest lumber baron in the Midwest. In addition to his lumber concerns, he invested in commercial paper. His other accomplishments included bank directorships and the leadership of several corporations while also holding title to numerous barges and Great Lakes ships as well as wood products plants.

Whitney died in 1900, but the family continued to live in the House until the 1920's. At that time it became headquarters to the Wayne County Medical Society. The Medical Society later sold the house, and the 6,000-square-foot carriage house behind it, to the Visiting Nurses Association. Richard Kughn purchased the property in 1980. He was a man with a vision and on December 12th, 1986, the Whitney mansion became The Whitney, "An American Restaurant in an American palace." Mr. Kughn was an ardent supporter of the City of Detroit, and in 2007 he sold this amazing property to another believer in the strength of the City, Bud Liebler. Mr. Liebler is a former Chrysler executive who is on a path to refresh and revitalize the property and keep it functioning as a treasured Detroit icon. It is an exciting adventure that he hopes will be shared – and enjoyed -- by many for years to come.

Whitney Page Photograph
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