Benson Ford Ship House Exclusive Access Tour
Recently I attended the Travel Influencer workshop hosted on a unique ship house with the fabulous ladies from Social Influencer Media, LLC. Through this I was offered the incredibly awesome and completely exclusive opportunity to spend a few days on the history Benson Ford Ship House in Put-in-Bay, Ohio. First of all – you need to know it is AWESOME. But secondly (and most importantly!) it is a PRIVATE residence and is NOT available for rent or tours! So please don’t try contacting the owners!
On the bright side, however, I took plenty of photos to share with you a little bit not only about the interesting history of the Benson Ford but also a glimpse inside so that you can see what it looks like today. You can find even more history and images here.
It all started back in 1924 when the Benson Ford ship (named for one of Henry Ford’s grandsons) was built and launched for the Ford Motor Company. It was designed and used for transporting iron ore and other materials across the Great Lakes. Twice in 1959 it ran aground. It was then sold in 1981 to Frank J. Sullivan, renamed John Dykstra II, after being stripped for salvageable parts. Mr. Sullivan intended to use it as a barge but it never sailed again. In 1992 decided to try and turn into a bed & breakfast. When licensing couldn’t be properly acquired it was then resold 5 years later as a private residence. The structure was once again renamed the Benson Ford and renovated to be lived in. This 4 story summer home is a whopping 7000 square feet and includes a garage, family room, 5 bedrooms, 5 full baths, dining room, living room, galley, and one of my favorites – the pilot house!
Although the ship house is not visible while on Put-in-Bay as it is a private residence you can catch a glimpse of this amazing piece of history as you approach the island far to the right while on the Miller Ferry which runs multiple times throughout the day and carries not only people but vehicles and other service trucks between the island and the mainland. (although golf carts are still the preferred method of travel on the island – I recommend E’s Put-in-Bay Golf Carts.) You can also see it best perhaps by kayaking on Lake Erie directly in front of the ship house. No matter what angle you see it from it is still stunning.
Perhaps one of my favorite places on the ship as you can imagine was out on one of the many “balconies”. I spent my nights outside under the open sky watching the stars and listening to the waves crash against the rocks on shore. But let’s start our tour inside ……
As you tour through the ship it’s such an exciting and unique experience – and handsomely decorated – you tend to forget you’re in a ship. But the steep stairs remind you how difficult it would be to make it from top to bottom in poor weather on the seas! Let’s head up to the pilot house – the most unique location in this house and the highest level indoors.
A View Inside the Pilot House:
From what I can tell most – if not all – of the pilot house is original. It still has the old equipment, steering wheel and radio system in place.
It by far provides the most stunning view from inside the ship.
Heading Down a Level:
As we head back down to the next level exiting from the steep stairs (which appears to be a secret closet) we find ourselves inside the study. On this floor are 3 of the bedrooms and 2 bathrooms – one of which I slept in.
This was the room I slept in – small but cozy. The best part was being able to keep the heavy ship door open at night and listen to the waves crash off of Lake Erie! Most of the smaller bedrooms were similar in size and design.
What I love is that the ship house, although a private residence, has kept much of the design and decor original. Sometimes I felt more like I was walking through a museum!
Down one more level:
Here’s a glimpse into one of the larger bedrooms as we travel down another floor.
And although we spent most of our time in the spacious family room where a nice kitchenette and bar have been added I couldn’t help but peek in every nook and cranny of the ship!
Remember that this stunning piece of history is a private residence so if you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of it head out in your kayak or peer off to the right of the Miller Ferry as you head onto the island. I’m so thankful to those who have a passion to live in such a unique location and keep an important part of history alive.