The Whitney

4421 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI

(313) 832-5700

Status: Former Residence; Upscale Restaurant


Ghost Tours Are Available Click Here


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Historical Photo of the mansion in 1905

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Attribution: Andrew Jameson at en.wikipedia


This grand mansion was built between 1890 and 1894 by one of both Detroit’s and Michigan’s most wealthy businessmen, David Whitney.

It is thought to have cost $400,000 (just over 13.4 million dollars in 2024) to build the mansion. It is 21,000 square feet (1,950 square metres) and contains 52 rooms with 218 windows and 20 fireplaces. It also has numerous Tiffany windows which today are thought to be worth more than the entire house.

It was the first house in Detroit with an elevator strictly for personal use.

Mr Whitney was quoted as saying he would comfortable in a tiny log cabin; his wife, Flora, felt otherwise.

Whitney’s first wife Flora died in 1888 and never lived in the mansion. In 1889 he married Flora’s sister. Sara, who did live in the mansion and took care of David and Flora’s 4 children.

Mr Whitney died in 1900 of a heart attack thought to be have been brought on by his daughter Grace’s announcement she was getting married and moving to Europe. Sara – who continued to live in the mansion – died in 1917 also in the mansion.

Until 1932 the Whitney family loaned the Wayne County Medical Association the house. The Nurse’s Association set up an office in the old carriage house. After the 1932 the doctors were finally able to take over all the taxes and bills related to the property and in 1941 the family gave the mansion to the Medical Association.

The Nurses Association stayed in the mansion even after the doctors left. In 1979 Richard Kughn bought the house and saved it from the wrecking ball.

Kughn spent $3 million in 1986 (nearly 8.5 million in 2024) to completely renovate the mansion and turn it into a restaurant.

In 2007 the property was sold again but remained an upscale restaurant.


Paranormal Activity

Ghost Tours can be booked through contacting The Whitney or through some Detroit Ghost Tour Websites.

The ghost of Flora – Whitney’s first wife – who died before construction was even began on what was supposed to be her dream house is seen sobbing on the third floor. Perhaps due to having her sister and not her live in the mansion.

She is most commonly seen in the third floor woman’s washroom. At least one woman has had a conversation with Flora’s ghost not realizing who she was. In actuality the woman was very upset thinking the restaurant was pranking her when she was told there had been no one present in the washroom besides herself.

David Whitney, himself, is seen on the both the second and third floors. One staff member went to speak to an elderly man sitting by a window on the second floor only to have him vanish before their eyes when they approached.

Grace – Whitney’s daughter – used to have tea parties in the carriage house, The carriage house – albeit not in very good shape anymore – is still on the property. A tea set is kept in the building for Grace to this day; if it is removed paranormal activity ramps up in the house almost immediately and only calms down if the tea set is replaced.

The apparition of Grace herself has been seen sitting at the table containing the tea set. She has been seen watching people through the window. The ghostly laughter of children is also reported in the old carriage house.

The home’s elevator still works; in fact, in works so well it will often move between floors completely on it’s own. This has even been caught on security cameras in the middle of the night when there are no living in the building.

On the second floor the phantom voices of children playing are heard. This is usually reported when the building is empty and staff are just about to lock up. On child was captured on audio saying “quiet on the set”.

When the Medical Association owned the house it was used as a tuberculosis sanatorium briefly. Reports of phantom coughing in the mansion is thought to date back to this time period.

Utensils and tables are known for moving on their own. Curiously, this usually happens when no one is actually in the room and is most often reported by the living as a sound.

Numerous EVP’s have been captured by paranormal investigators.

The ghosts of the mansion have also given intelligent replies to communication through knocking.