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Featured Windows, May-June 2012

The David Whitney House and The Whitney Restaurant

Building: Whitney House, The David and The Whitney Restaurant

City: Detroit

State: Michigan

The David Whitney House and the Whitney Restaurant. Built 1890-1894. Gordon W. Lloyd, architect.

David Whitney was considered not only one of Detroit’s wealthiest, but one of Michigan’s wealthiest citizens as well. He was from Massachusetts and came to Detroit to run two east coast lumber companies. Upon his move, Whitney surrounded himself with the wealthiest and most respectable families in Detroit. On top of his lumber concerns, he was interested in shipping, real estate and manufacturing.

Gordon W. Lloyd, a respected Detroit architect, began construction in 1890 and took four years to complete the house. It was built of jasper from South Dakota, a rare variety of pink granite which gives the exterior its striking rose hue. This Romanesque Revival style house originally had 52 rooms, including 10 bathrooms, 218 windows, 20 fireplaces, and also was one of the first private residences to have a hydraulic elevator. The estimated cost of the house was $400,000 or $10,500,000 in today’s economy.

Though Whitney only lived in the house for six years before his death in 1900, his family continued living in the house until the 1920s. After that in 1941, the family gave it to the Wayne County Medical Society for their headquarters, who sold it in 1957 to the Visiting Nurses Association. In the late seventies, Richard Kughn, a real estate magnate and vice-chairman of the board of Taubman Inc., bought the house and restored it, as closely as possible, to its original state. In 1972, the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places list and in 1986 it became The Whitney Restaurant.

Among all the splendor of the David Whitney house, one can find many windows that have been attributed to Louis Comfort Tiffany. The windows that are located in the music room involve scenes with musical instruments.

These windows include cherubs playing harps, Apollo with his lyre, cherubs playing a zither, and St. Cecelia, the patroness of music, playing an organ.

Another impressive window in the house is located at the grand staircase. This window has the image of an explorer dressed in seventeenth century French clothing. Some believe that he is there to welcome the family home and pay homage to all the members of the Whitney family that had been knighted, as well as point to their lineage with the Royal blood line in England.

The David Whitney House and The Whitney Restaurant was photographed and registered in the Michigan Stained Glass Census by Heather O'Hara of Detroit, MI.

Bibliography: Show Bibliography

(MSGC 1994.0177)

Text by Elizabeth Schreiner, Michigan Stained Glass Census, May , 2012.