Historic Detroit

Every building in Detroit has a story — we're here to share it

Whittier Hotel

The Whittier was one of the most luxurious apartment hotels outside of downtown, offering lush accommodations and stunning views of the Detroit River.

The hotel opened on East Jefferson and Burns Drive in two stages. The first, an eight-story building, opened Feb. 15, 1923; a more ornate 15-story tower, followed three years later, in April 1926. Both were designed by Charles N. Agree.

Ground was broken on the 15-story tower on May 18 or 25, 1925. The addition included a 200-car garage.

A number of celebrities checked in to the Whittier, but far and away the best known folks to lay their mop tops down in the Whittier were the Beatles. The Fab Four checked into Room 1566 on Sept. 6, 1964, while in town for a show at Olympia Stadium. Chicago TV producers Larry Einhorn and Richy Victor bought eight bedsheets and four pillow cases that the band used, chopped them up into 1-square-inch swatches, glued them to certificates of authenticity and then sold them to rabid fans.

The building was turned into senior housing late in its life, but was shuttered in 2001. However, the eight-story building reopened for senior living a few years later.

Shockingly, despite its views, location and the demand for housing in the city’s desirable areas, its current owner -- Mel Washington's Phoenix Properties -- has done nothing with the stunning tower or tried to sell it to a developer who will. The building remains vacant and is increasingly under attack from vandals and thieves.