Constructed in 1890-94 for David Whitney, one of Michigan's wealthiest citizens, the Whitney House is an excellent example of the Romanesque Revival style of architecture. In 1857, David Whitney, a descendant of early Massachusetts settlers, came west to Detroit to run the operations of two East Coast firms involved in the lumber industry. By the 1870s, Whitney had branched out on his own, investing in pinelands primarily in Wisconsin and Michigan. Becoming involved in maritime transportation, Whitney also owned an extensive fleet of steam barges and consorts. This fleet shipped lumber, as well as iron ore from Lake Superior ports, to manufacturing and distributing centers along the lower lakes. By the turn-of-the- century, Whitney had become one of Michigan's wealthiest citizens, owning large amounts of land and holding interest in many banking institutions and industrial corporations. In 1890, construction began on a lavish new residence for Whitney and his family-- a project which took four years to complete. Gordon W. Lloyd was hired as architect and designed the house in the then fashionable Romanesque Revival style. Built of jasper brought from South Dakota, the house has 42 rooms, 10 bathrooms, 20 fireplaces, and 218 stained and lead glassed windows installed by Tiffany's of New York. At the time it was completed, the Detroit Free Press described the house as "an American palace enjoying the distinction of being one of the most pretentious modern homes in the state and one of the most elaborate houses in the west."
The David Whitney House is located at 4421 Woodward Avenue, approximately 8 blocks south of the Edsel Ford Freeeway (Interstate 94). The building is a restuarant and open to the public.
The David Whitney House today
Photograph courtesy of the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office
The David Whitney House, circa 1905
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