The last couple of days have been nothing short of a whirlwind!
With a visit from Scott’s mom and a special birthday, we have been quite the busy bees touring around the city and surrounding areas of Detroit.
I knew I wanted to take Scott somewhere special for his birthday dinner Monday night. We had passed this gorgeous castle-like mansion several times, so I thought celebrating his birthday would be a great excuse to finally check it out. I’m so glad we did!
The Whitney – David Whitney House & Restaurant
The Whitney is a mansion turned restaurant on Woodward Avenue in Midtown Detroit. True to it’s name, the giant home was completed in 1894 and designed for lumber baron David Whitney, Jr.
It was described as the most elaborate and substantial residence in this part of the country in the 1900s. I wouldn’t be surprised if that held true today!
We need to revisit in the daytime so I can truly capture the beauty of this structure inside and out. For now, I’ll do my best to cover the highlights.
For starters, the exterior features a rare variety of pink granite.
Yes, I’m referencing the same granite people upgrade to inside on their kitchen countertops.
(Exterior photo taken here)
The 21,000 square foot mansion originally had 52 rooms, 10 bathrooms, 218 windows, 20 fireplaces, an elevator, and a secret vault in the original dining room. Construction took about four years at a $400,000 price tag, equalling about 10.5 million dollars in today’s economy!
The inside is just as impressive of the rich and extravagant looking outside.
As soon as we got through the entrance, my eyes went straight towards the grand staircase that dominates the Great Hall.
My pictures aren’t even close to doing any kind of justice to how cool these details were to see in person. I fully plan on coming back in the day time with a better camera in the future!
The Great Hall is adorned with bronze and is accented with colorful Tiffany stained glass windows and panels on the second and third floors. (!!!)
This piece alone is worth around $6,000,000. No big deal.
Here’s another Tiffany piece, designed and made just for this house.
The Great Hall is considered to be the biggest attraction, besides the ghost stories.. but we’ll return to those in a minute.
The fireplace dominates the space with a mantel that holds a famous and antique bronze clock. The light fixtures surrounding the clock were installed by Thomas Edison! Yep… the Thomas Edison.
The interior walls and ceilings of the rooms in the house are all elaborately constructed and unique in their designs.
Adorned with hand-woven silks, tapestries, and hand tooled leather, each wall and ceiling piece has a completely different and impressive design!
David Whitney, Jr. died in 1900, but the family continued to live in the house until the late 1920s. Today, the Whitney mansion is now called “The Whitney” and has become “an American restaurant in an American place,” according to one of their brochures.
Bub Liebler, the current owner and former Chrysler executive, had a vision to revitalize the property and keep it as a treasured Detroit icon open to the public. He invites anyone to come visit, host parties, and offers an exquisite menu for dining.
As nice as this place was, we expected the expensive price tag to come with our meals. It was Scott’s birthday, so it was okay to splurge a little!
(I thought it was so cool that they printed his name on the menu!)
We started by ordering a bottle of Grand Traverse Riesling and took our fabulous waitress, Jill, up on a lot of her suggestions.
The kitchen brought out a small plate of cucumber relish, a complimentary drink for the birthday boy, and a plate of Eggplant Bruschetta we ordered.
Scott and I split a wedge salad and we each ordered different entrees.
(Seafood Sauté for me, Beef Wellington for the birthday boy, and Vegetable Risotto for his mom.)
We each got a small spoonful of sorbet to cleanse our pallets right before our entrees came out, which I thought was a great touch. We ordered a side of the sizzling mushrooms (they come out like fajitas!) and jalapeño creamed corned to split as well.
Everything was incredibly delicious and filled with flavor!
As we finished our dinner, I was looking forward to surprising Scott with a plate of German Chocolate brownies we secretly brought in with us. That is his favorite kind of cake, and the brownies were the closest we could find earlier that afternoon with limited time!
The pianist played the “Happy Birthday” song as our waitress brought out the plate, and we soon realized there were also three other birthdays in the dinning room! We each grabbed a brownie and shared the rest with the birthday tables and staff.
Everything was so very good!
As we were wrapping things up, the manager came over and asked how everything was. We expressed our gratitude for an outstanding meal and also our interest in hearing more about the supposed haunted tales we heard before coming in.
His eyes lit up and I could tell he was excited to tell us more. We were the last ones in the house before closing, so we grabbed our stuff and took him up on his offer to give us a complimentary house tour!
Everything was really neat to see. I have been in huge houses and mansions before, but I have never seen one this personally crafted and enhanced with this level of detail. It was unreal!
We made it up to the third floor and arrived at the Ghost Bar.
Properly named, he went on to tell us a couple of haunted stories he and his staff have witnessed themselves. I won’t go into too much detail, but let’s just say there has been documented activity roaming the floors as well as guest interaction with people who don’t actually exist.
He continued on to note that the elevator often follows him between floors. It opens and moves on it’s own, and he is so used to it that it doesn’t even phase him anymore. Freaky, huh?
It was getting late, so we made our way downstairs and kept telling him how wonderful our experience was.
If you ever find yourself anywhere close to Midtown Detroit, I highly suggest making a reservation to come check out The Whitney.
The food, the environment, and the stories were all very impressive!
Happy, Happy Birthday Scotty!