Put-in-Bay's Benson Ford...House?

Virtual Tour of Put-in-Bay Ohio’s Incredible Benson Ford Ship House

Hundreds of thousands of Put-in-Bay visitors have gazed in wonder at the outside of the Benson Ford Ship House, but very few have seen inside. Now you can! Walk through the amazing interior of one of the most unique homes in America with our InsideMaps virtual tour below!

The YouTube channel Doc Bites recently featured Put-in-Bay’s famous Benson Ford house in one of their videos, and it’s fantastic. Enjoy the video right here, and then read on to learn a little more about the Benson Ford!

Put-in-Bay’s Famous Benson Ford House

The Benson Ford is among the most famous attractions on the Lake Erie island of Put-in-Bay, Ohio, so it’s important to understand the history behind how it became what it is today. The house actually started its life in 1924 as part of a massive cargo ship that was commissioned by Henry Ford to transport steel across Lake Erie for the Ford Motor Company.

The ship was named after Henry’s grandson and Its Maiden voyage was actually made out of Toledo, Ohio! The Benson was in service for over 50 years or tireless service before finally being decommissioned in 1981. The sip was then temporarily renamed the “John Dykstra” in order to free up the name so it could be given to a new ship in the Ford fleet.

So how did it end up on South Bass Island?

Put-in-Bay is a peculiar but extremely fun island marked by Perry’s Victory & International Peace Memorial where the only way to reach the island is by the put-in-bay ferry, golf cart rentals are the preferred mode of transportation, and antique car parades tour downtown every Sunday. You can come to party or for a relaxing island getaway at one of the hundreds of Put-in-Bay lodging vacation rentals just the same.

After the ship was decommissioned by the Ford, it was bought by Frank Sullivan. The owner of the Sullivan Marina in Cleveland where it was intended to be used as a barge. However, the ship would not set sail again after Sullivan determined it wouldn’t make sense due to the cost of making her seaworthy again. So, Sullivan opted for a more creative use for the ship.

The Benson Ford’s New Lease On Life

The entire forecastle of the ship was removed and sent to Put-In-Bay Island where it would be converted into a summer home for the Sullivan family. It finally arrived in July 1986 to the bedrock on Victory point where it still remains today, while the rest of the ship was sold for scrap.

Finally in 1992 Mr. Sullivan realized how popular the shiphouse was, and wanted to turn it into a bed and breakfast in order to find a way to cash in on the Put-in-Bay attraction. However, after a lengthy battle with the PIB Township’s Zoning Board it was determined that he would not be allowed to do so.

After enjoying the summer home until 1999 Mr. Sullivan finally decided it was time to sell. It was put up for auction where none other than Bryan Kasper and his father
Jerry decided to buy it! The father-son duo who also happened to be in the automotive industry really appreciated the history of the Benson Ford and swiftly renamed the ship to its original title.

Put-in-Bay’s Benson Ford Today

Kasper has kept the top 3 floors all original as they were as a ship, including the galley, decorated in beautiful black walnut paneling. In full, it’s over 7,000 sq feet with 6 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms. So you’re probably asking yourself, how much is it worth? Well to be answered simply, Kasper says he would never sell the ship no matter the price. Though it is estimated to be somewhere over $2m.

Be sure to be on the lookout for the Benson next time you come for a Bay vacation!

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