- Three of the most iconic properties in Detroit were up for sale all at the same time.
- The Book, Kresge, and Whitney mansions were on the market until the Book finally sold.
- Because of the ongoing threat of a recession and the COVID-19 pandemic, selling them has been a long process.
Detroit is known for its unique architecture, with homes built in the 19th and 20th centuries still standing today.
But three of the most iconic properties in Detroit were up for sale all at the same time for several months. The Book, Kresge, and Whitney mansions were on the market for months, with the Book finally selling at the end of 2022.
They have been restored through the years, but because of the threat of a recession and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, selling them has been a long process.
The Book Mansion, sold for $1.2 million
James Burgess Book Jr. developed the Book Mansion, part of the historic Indian Village neighborhood, in 1911. The architect Louis Kamper took inspiration from the legendary Palace of Versailles in France while designing the property. It has seven bedrooms, five bathrooms, reception halls, and a grand marble staircase. The last owners lived there for a little over a decade, spending more than $4 million on renovating the home.
James Burgess Book Jr. developed the Book Mansion, part of the Indian Village neighborhood, in 1911.
Keller Williams Realty
The asking price was $3.5 million, but Matt Dillon and Steffanie Purdon of Windsor, Canada, bought it last fall for a little over $1 million.
The Kresge Mansion, for sale for $3.25 million, first on the market in 2019
The Kresge Mansion on Boston Boulevard is the largest residential property in Detroit at almost four acres and behind an iron fence, with 14 rooms, staff quarters in the back, and a carriage house with living quarters upstairs.
The Kresge Mansion has staff quarters and a carriage house with living quarters upstairs.
Built in 1914, Sebastian and Anna Kresge owned the home. They divorced in 1924, and Anna Kresge added a billiards room and a conservatory. According to the Detroit News, in 1948 when Anna Kresge died, it was donated to the Catholic Church.
The Kresge was purchased again in 1993 to be renovated and used as housing and practice space for visiting symphony members while they played in Detroit. But the project fell through after Covid.
For almost 30 years, the home had been under restoration, and the chimney remains to be repaired. It is on the market for $3.25 million.
The Whitney Mansion, for sale at $2.9 million, on the market since June
Finally, the iconic Whitney Mansion, which the Michigan lumber baron David Whitney, one of the wealthiest men in Michigan at the time, built between 1890 and 1894.
The Whitney is a 52-room estate with Tiffany glass windows and a caged conservatory that is now a business.
Max Broock Realtors
Gordon W. Lloyd designed the 52-room estate with Tiffany glass windows and a caged conservatory. In 2013, Jim Jarmusch used the estate for his film “Only Lovers Left Alive.” At the time, the mansion was deteriorating, but it has since been restored.
The Whitney, on the market for $2.9 million, is currently a fine-dining restaurant and venue.
A local myth that the Whitney is literally a “haunted mansion,” has intrigued some potential buyers — or at least curious minds.
Listing agent for the Whitney, Matt O’Laughlin of Max Broock Realtors, said the economy has made selling the property a struggle.
“Detroit has a challenge. Of right now, higher interest rates, higher taxes, and then you’ve got a job market that hasn’t fully returned yet. So that’s been a struggle,” he said.
There was out-of-state interest, but that ceased due to the pandemic, he said, and historically, house shopping is at a lull during Michigan winters.
O’Laughlin estimates that interest rates will stabilize in the spring, coinciding with house shopping ramping up again.
The Kresge and Book are residential properties, while The Whitney is a business.
The three are considered historic city jewels, but hit the market for less than what they might have under normal circumstances partly because of a new drop in city residents.
“The exodus to the suburbs is real simple. It’s COVID. COVID taught us we need to change our lifestyle,” Steve Katsaros, a broker with Keller Williams Realty, told Insider.
The pandemic started the exodus from Detroit with the advent of the working-from-home movement.
“It was fun and cool to live downtown. Downtown shut down. It was a ghost town. And it still hasn’t bounced back for office buildings and so forth,” Katsaros said.
The Whitney Mansion was built between 1890 and 1894 for the Michigan lumber baron David Whitney.
Max Broock Realtors