The Whittier Hotel was built in 1926 and was located at 415 Burns Drive, near the corner of East Jefferson Avenue, on Detroit’s lower east side. The Whittier Hotel was built in a beautiful, Italian Renaissance architectural style and designed by noted-architect Charles N. Agree, who had also already designed the beautiful Grande Ballroom and the Vanity Ballroom. The Whittier Hotel was a fifteen-story, buff-brick structure, with beautiful terra cotta trim around the upper floors. The most prominent feature of the Whittier Hotel was the intricate, beautiful, stone-bordered main entrance into the hotel. The main entrance was bordered with gorgeous stone detail, featured the name “WHITTIER” carved into the stone centerpiece above the doorway, and it was crowned with several stone trophy-like designs that lined the top of the main entrance. Rising from the stone-block centerpiece was two arches, that looked more like wings, as they arched up above the entrance and then came straight down on each side of the center trophy-like design.
The Whittier Hotel had a “T-shaped” floor plan and featured over 300 rooms; including a ballroom, a formal dining room, a conference room, and a banquet room. The Whittier Hotel was one of Detroit’s most luxurious hotels and residents could choose to live in the Whittier Hotel all year round. The larger and beautifully designed suites were located on the top floors of the Whittier Hotel.
Over the years, the luxury hotel played host to luminaries such as Eleanor Roosevelt, the Beatles, and Frank Sinatra. During the Prohibition Era, the hotel’s convenient access to the Detroit River and Canada made it popular with Detroit’s notorious Jewish-mafia rulers, the Purple Gang.
In 2001, the Whittier Hotel was closed for some necessary and much needed renovations. The renovation continued to get delayed over and over again and the Whittier Hotel was eventually left completely abandoned in 2006.
As of 2017, the Whittier Hotel is slowly undergoing renovations. The occupied portion of the Whittier Hotel, called the Whittier Manor, continues to keep a very close eye on the property. They will prosecute anyone who enters the building and gets caught trespassing on the property.