Photos: After 15 years of abandonment, the new David Whitney Building

David Whitney Building (right), and the Broderick Tower (left).
David Whitney Building (right), and the Broderick Tower (left). All photos by Steve Neavling.

The century-old David Whitney Building towered over Grand Circus Park like a giant carcass for 15 years, another casualty of Detroit’s decades-long economic decline.

But after a $92 million renovation, the 19-story building reopened in December as “Aloft Hotel,” a boutique hotel with 136 rooms and 105 apartments.

The four-story atrium lobby is breathtaking, covered in terra cotta and marble.

The building, which was designed by famed architect Daniel H. Burnham, is a monument to David Whitney Jr., an immensely wealthy lumber baron and shipping magnate, according to HistoricDetroit.org, which describes the building as “one of the most important structures in Detroit.” When the building opened in January 1915, the four-story lobby was ringed with storefronts, and the upper levels served as offices for doctors, lawyers, dentists and others, HistoricDetroit.org wrote.

The public is invited to tour the lobby, which will not disappoint.

The restoration was done by Walbridge.

Entrance to the David Whitney Building at Witherell and Woodward.
Entrance to the David Whitney Building at Witherell and Woodward.
The four-story atrium lobby is breathtaking.
The four-story atrium lobby is breathtaking.
The 100-year-old lobby used to be ringed with storefronts.
The 100-year-old lobby used to be ringed with storefronts.
The coffee tables are made of rescued material from the building during the cleanup.
The coffee tables are made of rescued material from the building during the cleanup.
This is the view from the entrance.
This is the view from the entrance.
Original mailbox.
Original mailbox.
The lobby is covered by a dramatic skylight.
The lobby is covered by a dramatic skylight.

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

  • Lee Gaylord

    There was a cafeteria there towards the end called the Black Bottom. It had great soul food.

  • fantastic news.

  • Bill Krebaum

    Great photos, beautiful building, thank you!

  • chumplady

    Beautiful! So glad it could be saved.

  • Harry Palmer

    Another one saved from the wrecking ball, thankfully.

  • GwenB

    Our Ophthalmologist was in this building. Dr. Carter. Glad to see the black granite is the same as it was when I was a little girl – over 50 years ago. I was in awe back then and I wish I could live there now!

    • phoenixkitty

      Our pediatrician’s office was also in the David Whitney. Even though I was very little, seeing the black marble and the gold trim takes me right back. Too bad that my Mom did not live to see it.

  • Great photos, Steve!

  • Lois Payette

    Beautiful!

  • bebow

    Very nice.

  • Guytano Parks

    …architectural repurposing (done right) is a good thing!…

  • Fergus

    It was beautiful when it was scuzzy. I can only imagine, with your photographic assistance, what it looks like now.

    • Tyrone Bridgeforth

      Those pictures are up to date.

      • Trexinmichigan

        Even if he isn’t.

      • Fergus

        I did not mean to suggest the photos are not up to date. I meant that because I am not there, I can only imagine how beautiful the joint is now, and that the photos assist the imagination. The other sentence in my post was meant to mean that even when the place was in poor shape it was beautiful. Sorry for the confusion.