The Detroit Historical Society notes that the area was very important to the Anishinabeg and other Native American groups — including the Wyandot, Iroquois, Fox, Miami and Sauk — as it’s proximity to rivers and lakes made it easy to reach, and thus, a natural meeting place. In 1701, Detroit was settled by a French explorer, who also admired its location.
After years of growth through shipping, shipbuilding and various manufacturing businesses, Detroit became a major transportation hub. In fact, it was the active carriage trade that inspired a young man named Henry Ford to build a little something known as an “automobile” in 1896.
Around this same time, many “Gilded Age” mansions from the late Victorian era were built to the east and west of what is now downtown — some of which you can see below in what once was the delightful, and most debonair, city of Detroit.
John B Ford house
Located at the time at 8192 East Jefferson Avenue
1. The Whitney House in Detroit
This mansion built between 1890 and 1894 by the lumber baron David Whitney Jr, was restored in 1986, and is now home to The Whitney Restaurant. When it was built, the home reportedly offered 21,000 square feet of luxurious living in its 52 rooms (including 10 bathrooms).
2. Residence of L.H. Jones, Detroit, Mich
3. David Whitney Jr. House
From 1905, the David Whitney Jr. House at left; Detroit Athletic Club (largely obscured) at right
4. Home of Dr TA McGraw, Detroit, Michigan
5. George Gough Booth residence
Photographed on a snowy day in Detroit
6. Home of A. Buhl, Iroquois Avenue from the northwest (c1910)
7. Elizabeth Buhl residence
Located at 7850 East Jefferson Avenue (building has since been demolished — see what’s there now.)
8. Henry Russel’s ivy-covered Victorian mansion (c1900)
9. Victorian residence of Mr. Dwight Cutler, Detroit, Michigan (c1910)
10. Mr. Swift’s residence, Detroit (c1905)
11. House of W.C. McMillan (c1905)
12. Victorian mansion of L.H. Jones (c1900)
13. House of Mrs. McGraw, 1085 Woodward Avenue, Detroit (c1910)
See what’s here now! (Spoiler: it’s not this house.)
14. Home of Mrs. H.C. Parke (c1900)
LIKE THESE? Then see our book, Luxurious Victorian Houses & Mansions
15. Home of Mr. Fair, 40 Putnam Avenue, Detroit, Michigan (c1910)
16. Frost House in Brush Park, Detroit
MORE MANSION LIVING
- See NYC’s stunning historical Fifth Avenue mansions (1890s)
- Vanderbilt Mansion, Biltmore: An American castle in the clouds
- Rosedown mansion: See a restored plantation home from the Old South
- Armsmear, Col. Samuel Colt’s over-the-top Victorian mansion in Connecticut