Novi, Michigan


 This mansion was built in Novi, Michigan, a far western suburb of Detroit, in 1929. The house had been built by Charles Rogers for his bride, the former Harriet Thornton, on the site of her family's old homestead. The old farmhouse had been moved to build the mansion and it is still located just northeast of it. At one time, a secret tunnel connected the two buildings but it has long since been closed off.

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White House Manor photo courtesy of Scott

The house was a stunning combination of Southern and New England architecture with towering columns, balconies, hand-carved woodwork, thick paneling, leaded glass doors, stained-glass windows and a grand staircase with cherry wood banisters that curved elegantly to the second floor. The house has been many things over the years since the Rogers family departed... but it has - never been anything but haunted.

The Rogers family had made their fortune in the canned milk industry and have been credited with inventing condensed milk. The Rogers home was called "White House Manor", not because of it's color but because it had been built with profits from the White House Milk Company. Charles Rogers had always dreamed of having a daughter and although he and his wife were blessed with four sons, he was never satisfied. He dreamed of a young woman to walk down the beautiful grand staircase one day in a bridal gown and years later, it seemed that dream would finally come true. One of his sons presented him with a granddaughter.

From the day that she announced her engagement, no expense was spared. The entire house was redecorated, flowers were brought in and a fantastic wedding and reception was planned on the grounds of the mansion.

But it would never happen... on the eve of the wedding, the young girl eloped. Shortly after, Charles Rogers died of a broken heart in 1942. His body lay in state before the funeral at the foot of the grand staircase.

Harriet Rogers lived on in the house until her death and then it was purchased by the Crusoe family, who lived there for about ten years. After 1973, the house stood empty until 1981, when it was purchased by the Cervi brothers. They converted the place into an elegant restaurant and called it "The White House Manor", reviving the old name.

The Cervi brothers often spoke of strange events in the house, especially the sound of footsteps on the vacant third floor. They also spoke of leaving the house at night, after turning off all of the lights and locking the doors, and only getting as far as their cars before the third floor lights would turn on by themselves. A search of the floor always revealed the place to be empty. Women customers reported strange experiences in the restroom on the second floor. One woman insisted she heard sounds and then a toilet flushing in a nearby stall, but no one was in there. Other customers reported breaking glass, missing objects and even the sounds of voices and chuckling in empty rooms.

In 1984, financial problems forced the Cervi brothers out of business and the place stood empty until 1987 when new owners re-opened it as a place called "Home Sweet Home". The strange activity continues there and a seance in 1988 was an event that marked a peak in paranormal activity. Since that time, the place has become an establishment called "Shiro". 

Are the ghosts of the house Charles and Harriet Rogers, still mourning the loss of their dreams many years ago? No one knows for sure, as no contact has ever been made with the spirits who walk here. One thing is sure though, whoever they are, they don't seem to be in any hurry to leave.

Copyright 1998 by Troy Taylor

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