life and times
hiram who
birth of the auto
border cities
sports heritage

The northern facade


story and photos Elaine Weeks

Earlier this year, some local media suggested the possibility that Willistead Manor, the magnificent former home of Hiram Walker’s son Edward Chandler Walker, would be placed on the auction block. A photo of Willistead as well as a couple of other high-profile city properties, accompanied by a story intimiating that they could be sold to help finance a downtown arena, appeared on the front page of the Windsor Star.

According to City Councillor Fulvio Valentinis, a director on the Willistead Manor Board, Willistead is definitely not for sale. He says there is a “50 or 60 page print-out” of city-owned properties, including parks, community centres and vacant buildings. Some of these properties, such as those expropriated by the city for tax arrears, have the potential of liquidation if necessary. “I can assure you that I have never heard anyone, even in jest, talk about selling Willistead Manor,” insists Valentinis.”Certain things are sacred in this city, and that is one of them. Willistead belongs to the community.”

The portico from Hiram Walker’s home on Woodward Avenue in Detroit

This is reassuring news to the thousands of people for whom Willistead is a treasured city icon. In addition, there are many who helped save Willistead by donating their time or money when it was threatened with demolition in the 1970s due to its deteriorated condition and the cost of restoration. Although Willistead may be a city-owned property, the funding it receives yearly from the City does not fully cover the costs of yearly maintainance or continued restoration work. Its function as a facility for weddings, conferences, etc., does provide additional funding but even the reveune from this source is inadequate which is why the Willistead Manor Board is so grateful to the many individuals and businesses who have donated to ensure Willistead’s rightful place in Windsor’s history.

The grand entrance

An opportunity for you to donate to help continue the restoration and refurbishing of this magnificent jewel is below.

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