Lumber businessman David Whitney started building his grand mansion at 4421 Woodward Avenue around 1890. Considered one of both Detroit’s and Michigan’s wealthiest citizen’s, Whitney spared no expense on the design, building and furnishing of the house. To call it a house is a huge understatement. It cost nearly $400,000 to build the mansion which is nearly $11million by today’s standards. The 21,000 square foot house has 42 rooms, 10 bathrooms, 20 fireplaces, a secret hiding place vault in the dining room, an elevator and over 200 Tiffany glass windows.
David Whitney died in the house in 1900. His wife, Sarah, outlived him by another 17 years and also died in the house. After her death, the family heirs leased the house to the Wayne County Medical Society. In 1942 the Medical Society took possession of this house and then departed in 1956. When the society left, the doctors took with them several of the home’s statues including busts of Psyche, Venus de Milo and William Shakespeare. That must have upset the spirits of the Whitneys.
In 1979 industrialist Richard Kughn bought the house. Dick Kughn may be better known to some as the savior of Lionel Trains. Kughn sold the mansion for a measly $2million in 2007 but not until after a major renovation of the home in 1986. It was during the renovation that many of the construction workers working in the home reported sightings of ghosts, apparitions, tools moving on their own and equipment moving between rooms.
When the Whitney opened as a restaurant the hauntings only increased. Patrons and employees reported seeing ghostly apparitions of a woman, clanging dishes and glasses in the kitchen when no one was around, objects being moved from room to room, and place settings moved before their eyes without the touch of a living person. People have claimed that the eyes of the people in many of the home’s paintings follow you or glow in the dark. Because of it being the most popular place for seeing ghostly apparitions, the third floor was respectively named the Ghost Bar.
One of the most haunted elements of the mansion is the elevator which moves between floors and opens all by itself. A client of the author who enjoys dining at the Whitney with his wife has said that his wife once saw an older man looking out of the window of a second floor dining room. He turned toward the woman and the others she was with and then vanished.