From Little Paris to Brush Park
Hosts Ghassan Yazbeck and Marilyn Nash-Yazbeck, Detroit residents with a life-long passion for art, antiques and stylish living, continue a 120-year-old tradition that began in 1876 when John Harvey, built the over 11,000 square foot mansion that stands at 97 Winder today.
To design his home at 97 Winder (then 51 Winder), John Harvey employed architect John V. Smith who combined elements of Queen Anne and Mansard architecture to create the three-story, late Victorian house. With its gables, bay windows, octagon turret and mansard roof, The Inn at 97 Winder is a classic example of 19th century Victorian architecture. Inside, the eight marble fireplaces and three-story staircase reinforce its status as one of the largest remaining Victorian home of the 1870s in Detroit. In determining the location, Harvey choose a premier address in Detroit's most prestigious community where many of Detroit's elite lived. Among the residents were department store king J.L. Hudson, lumber baron David Whitney and architect Albert Kahn. The neighborhood, developed mainly in the late 1800s, was affectionately called Little Paris as many of the homes were inspired by popular French designs of the period.
John Harvey, however, was best known as a religious philanthropist who opened the Mission School of the Detroit Industrial School for poor and Civil War orphaned children where he worked as the superintendent for 38 years. Under Harvey's supervision, the school grew and gained statewide recognition for its role in educating the city's orphans. Although John Harvey died in 1905, his widow remained in the house into the 1920s until Jesse Hobbs, an automobile worker, became the new owner. In 1938, the home was turned into a rooming house. Additions included a new bathroom on the first floor under the grand staircase as well as partitions to the small, first-floor parlor and four of the upstairs bedrooms to create additional rooms.
Today, Little Paris is commonly known as Brush Park, a throwback to the Brush family who owned the original farm in the middle 1800s that gave way to the divided lots that would house the elite of Detroit. The neighborhood is currently enjoying a resurgence of popularity due partly to its close proximity to many of Detroit's most popular attractions including the new football and baseball stadiums. While part of the neighborhood has been redeveloped for luxury condominiums, several of the original mansions are currently undergoing restorations.
Hosts Ghassan Yazbeck and Marilyn Nash-Yazbeck have spared no expense to restore the home to reflect the luxurious glamour of its past. Each unique room is filled with the treasures of another age. Sumptuous fabrics from New York City and Europe decorate the windows. Antiques, precious furnishings and museum-quality pieces of art speak to old-world European elegance with exotic African, Middleastern and Asian flourishes. Today, as it was in 1876, The Inn at 97 Winder is once again among the grandest homes in the city and a showpiece that speaks to stylish good taste for guests who expect the very best.