9.07.2010

HARRY BENNETT'S LODGE



Harry Bennett's lodge


We heard from a reader some interesting tid bits about Harry Bennett's Lodge and basically The lodge is in shambles. There is a lot of controversy over whether or not the lodge should even be there still. Thankfully - it would be so expensive to tear down, and built so well that we have no doubt it will be there for many more generations.

copyright 2013 Parker Thomas


There are no known blueprints of the Lodge so placement of tunnels is merely speculation. Every now an then an older scout will show up and offer some insight on where the entrances were. So the current caretakers really don't know where the tunnel entrances are located.



Harry Bennett Henry Ford's Thug leader had a Lodge built for him in Freeman Township, Michigan on Lost Lake. The house is constructed of brick and concrete block with concrete siding fashioned to make it look like a log cabin.




Since Bennett was always paranoid of being under attack, he included many security features in the lodge. The lodge was surrounded by a moat full of pointed posts. The bridge over the moat was kept loaded with dynamite.


copyright 2013 Parker Thomas

The lodge itself has many fascinating custom features. Hidden behind a hinged bookcase in the study is a secret passageway which leads to the dock. Every step of the staircase in the passageway is a different height from the others to make tripping more likely. Bennett would practice running down the steps so that he memorized their spacing to give him a head start if pursued.



There is also a hidden room which was home to a central point in the ventilation system, where conversations from multiple rooms could be clearly overheard. The roof of the building featured a guard station parapet at one end, complete with a fireplace to keep Bennett's men warm while on 24-hour armed watch when Bennett was at the lodge in colder months.

Bennett also had a private airfield with an airplane at the other end of Lost Lake. In the event of an attack, Bennett could take the secret passageway, emerge by the dock, take a boat across the lake, and escape by airplane. Luckily Bennett was never attacked just extremely paranoid.

The lodge and property was purchased by the Boy Scouts of America, Clinton Valley Council in 1964. Lost Lake Scout Reservation now stands on the site.


 Harry Bennett's Observation Turret in summer and winter

Harry Bennett, head of "security" at Ford Motor Company, owned the property that is now Lost Lake Scout Reservation for Henry Ford and Ford Motor Company in the '30's and '40's. During the late ‘30’s. His personal goon squad you might say and it is written in Mein Kampf that Hitler was a big Henry Ford fan and copied Bennett's brutal style and turned it in to the Gestapo for his own evil purposes.


Mr. Bennett built a Lodge overlooking Lost Lake. Bennett Lodge is constructed of cement but crafted to resemble a log cabin. Security and luxury were very important features in the design of Bennett Lodge.

A moat encircles the building and the roof was designed with observation (Harry was big on guns and tunnels) turrets. A secret underground passage was built to allow for fast exits. The artisans at Ford’s Greenfield Village made the furniture. The property also included a horse stable and a private airfield.


View of the Lodge from Lost Lake

Lost Lake and 3½ square miles of property were purchased in 1965 by Clinton Valley Council, now know as the Great Lakes Council. Lost Lake Scout Reservation started summer camp in 1966 and has provided Scouts with wilderness summer camp experiences ever since.



New Dock area where old escape boat used to be kept

The lodge and property was purchased by the Boy Scouts of America, Clinton Valley Council in 1964. Lost Lake Scout Reservation now stands on the site. The lodge is used for teaching merit badges, storing waterfront equipment, and for ghost tours.

Ghost Hunt at Lost Lake,

This trip was Cancelled and this is what is on their website:

New management at the Lost Lake Scout Reservation will not honor their original agreement. So sadly the ghost hunter group had to cancel their planned event.

A remote, scenic setting deep in the woods along the quiet shores of Lost Lake was the site of Michigan's First Annual Paranormal Retreat. You'll find yourself away from traffic and city noise. It's a time and place to enjoy nature, relax, rejuvenate, find peace. Yet there are stories that surround this remote camp. Stories of wild parties ... the Purple Gang ... murder ... and ghosts.

During the day, enjoy; Outdoor NATURE HIKES (there have been reports of a BIG FOOT creature roaming the woods LOL), boating, fishing, swimmer,Spa Services facials, shopping in the quaint town of Clare. In late afternoon and early evening enjoy paranormal presentations and at night, join in the ghost hunt. It sounds like it would have been a great time!


View of the Tunnel copyright 2013 Parker Thomas

The Ford Hunger March was a demonstration of unemployed workers starting in Detroit and ending in Dearborn, Michigan, that took place on March 7, 1932. The march resulted in four workers being shot to death by the Dearborn Police Department and security guards employed by the Ford Motor Company. Harry Bennett's goon squad was responsible.




The swimming pool beside the house provided more than the usual entertainment to Bennett and his guests: The pool was constructed with a viewing room (complete with wet bar) adjacent to the pool. A glass window looked into the pool under water, so Harry and company could enjoy watching their female guests swim.

Much of the furniture remains, the secret passageway is part of the tour, but the pool has fallen into disrepair. Trees have been planted on the airfield.

It is good to know that Harry's evil hideout was bought by the Boy Scouts and turned into a lovely place for young people to camp and have fun. No one ever used the word fun in describing Harry. That's for sure!


When Henry the first died in 1947 the writing was on the wall for Bennett. Its been said that you could smell smoke in the basement of the old world HQ as Bennett burned his papers (pre-shredder days).

Read more about:
NEW* Video Tour of Bennett's Castle!
Harry Bennett's Castle HERE
Castle 1984 Photos
The Rise and Fall of Harry Bennett HERE
Harry Bennett's Cabin HERE
Harry Bennett-"Closer to Ford than his only son"

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

He's got a house on the Huron river off of Geddes we used to go by. Rumor had it he kept lions in cages downstairs and he had trees made of cement with machine guns in them. We walked by the back there once on the river and a guy came out on a boat with a shotgun so we beat it out of there. John C. Morgan

RetroKimmer said...

Yes we went to Harry's "Castle" last year my brother Jason and I. I never heard about cement trees before but I did photograph the grounds and never did see that! He did build the lodge to look like a log cabin out of cement. Every article I found did agree that he kept wild cats Lions and Tigers. There is a nice playhouse built for his daughter. Thanks for the info John! There is a link to my other Harry stories at the end of this post. KIM

Anonymous said...

I would love to visit his castle and find out how they got the funds to restore it so beautifully. I was just at the Bennett Lodge over the weekend, and it's falling apart. The boy scouts have taken absolutely no pride in the history of the land they own and never clean or take care of the building. I wouldn't say that it's falling apart. That would be extremely hard to do considering the entire building is made out of concrete and is being reinforced with rebarb. The most they've tried to do is send letters out to the Ford Company asking them to restore the building but because of the dark history behind the house, the company denies that the man was associated to the company or even existed to begin with.

The Lodge is beautiful and has a carefully thought out layout plan, however, every year more and more of it's history is destroyed by people breaking in and stealing things that were original to the house. Just recently the last painting that Harry Bennett painted himself that hung inside the building, was stolen last Memorial Day. It's unfortunate that this historical land isn't taken care of with more pride.

Anonymous said...

Harry Bennett's summer home and the land surrounding it is now the Lost Lake Scout Reservation up near Clare MI. I went there once when I was a Scout as a kid. The roof had gun sentry stations, there was supposedly a tunnel going under the lake to an airstrip on the other side (which I guess had a plane waiting ready to go 24/7), the pool had a window looking into it from the basement of the house... The whole thing was creepy as hell.

Bennett is also prominently pictured in the Diego Rivera mural at the Detroit Institute of Arts (he's the guy in the fedora with the squad of goons looking skeptically at the workers).

jerry said...

Harry's observation turret is actually the repelling tower built buy the scouts in 1998. And the docks in the picture are not near the house they are buy the campfire bowl on the other side of the lake.

Wheedies of troop 134 said...

My troop was there over the weekend, last friday and slept in the basment library.
the house is in disaray, but it is not because of historical value or want to preserve it. its due to lack of funding; in fact the camp, Lost Lake, is closing this summer.
within the last four years the bsa council or camp , unfortinetly has been closing up passage ways. the one in the mane fireplace at the far end from the bridge has been sealed. the turrets removed, books removed. all thats left, passage wise that it exesible is closet addic crawl spaces and the bookshelf in the second room to the right in the basment; which leads to the pool house, and yes differently sized steps on the way down.
over the weekend me and my freinds have found at least we think, two or three covered passege ways, one is in the poolhouse, covered by unbrekable cement (its rumered that the gov. used three dimond saws and a jack hammer and it only made a dent). one it at the hed of the stares, and the other might be in the srorrige rooms to the left in the basment.
one interesting thing is the sand room, rooms filled with sand, some sand has been taken out, but onle enough for someone to fit, what it the sand hiding? the spying listning room?
all that is original is the furniture in the basmentone corner couch, one couch, one leather couch, two arm chairs and a leather chair.
the air field dose not exist ant more, it looks like a savana.
the undereground bunkers have no found exess.
it is rummered that there is a passege under the lake or moat.
the outside meshurments and porportions do not equal the inside ones. the house it ment to disoriate.
the pool has colapsed and the more elevated part has been covered in sand.
the upstaires is still used by staff. the chmneys are unusible and incilated save the mane one.
my friend says that he one found a bathouse of sourts out in the middle of the woods.
please come and visit Lost Lake, it was my first summer camp and i probobly saw it for the last time this weekend.

ryan wheedies said...

My troop was there over the weekend, last friday and slept in the basment library.
the house is in disaray, but it is not because of historical value or want to preserve it. its due to lack of funding; in fact the camp, Lost Lake, is closing this summer.
within the last four years the bsa council or camp , unfortinetly has been closing up passage ways. the one in the mane fireplace at the far end from the bridge has been sealed. the turrets removed, books removed. all thats left, passage wise that it exesible is closet addic crawl spaces and the bookshelf in the second room to the right in the basment; which leads to the pool house, and yes differently sized steps on the way down.
over the weekend me and my freinds have found at least we think, two or three covered passege ways, one is in the poolhouse, covered by unbrekable cement (its rumered that the gov. used three dimond saws and a jack hammer and it only made a dent). one it at the hed of the stares, and the other might be in the srorrige rooms to the left in the basment.
one interesting thing is the sand room, rooms filled with sand, some sand has been taken out, but onle enough for someone to fit, what it the sand hiding? the spying listning room?
all that is original is the furniture in the basmentone corner couch, one couch, one leather couch, two arm chairs and a leather chair.
the air field dose not exist ant more, it looks like a savana.
the undereground bunkers have no found exess.
it is rummered that there is a passege under the lake or moat.
the outside meshurments and porportions do not equal the inside ones. the house it ment to disoriate.
the pool has colapsed and the more elevated part has been covered in sand.
the upstaires is still used by staff. the chmneys are unusible and incilated save the mane one.
my friend says that he one found a bathouse of sourts out in the middle of the woods.
please come and visit Lost Lake, it was my first summer camp and i probobly saw it for the last time this weekend.

Anonymous said...

I stayed at this lodge in 1980 or 81. I was 15. I toured thru a hidden passageway and heard allot of ghostly tales. We learned about the "lady in white" and a gardner named Charlie! We also were shown artifacts that were found after the place was purchased. Heard the roof was once flat where the machine guns were at to protect the lodge.

Anonymous said...

I worked on the castle years ago, I've been thru the spiral staircase down to the hidden tunnel where the room with the Bunk beds are and out to where the stable is. Also into the hidden shower room under the front porch that is behind the sliding book case, and down the uneven stairs to an emergency exit I've seen the large swimming pool that is down by the river along with all the concrete trees surrounding the area. Also there is a pretty interesting boat house that's is located down on the river with a old stove or some old heater to heat that room years ago. Some where there are tunnels that lead to the old movie house that's located to at the west end of the property. And tunnels that lead to the old farm house across the street from the mansion. I've also been to the cable as well. But it was in bad shape so to the vandalism. But it still had a interest ing hidden stairway behind the fire place with Windows at the top to shoot guns out of. I think there is much more around that cabin that needs to be found. Lots of mistery surrounding that cabin and mansion.

Anonymous said...

I worked on the castle years ago, I've been thru the spiral staircase down to the hidden tunnel where the room with the Bunk beds are and out to where the stable is. Also into the hidden shower room under the front porch that is behind the sliding book case, and down the uneven stairs to an emergency exit I've seen the large swimming pool that is down by the river along with all the concrete trees surrounding the area. Also there is a pretty interesting boat house that's is located down on the river with a old stove or some old heater to heat that room years ago. Some where there are tunnels that lead to the old movie house that's located to at the west end of the property. And tunnels that lead to the old farm house across the street from the mansion. I've also been to the cable as well. But it was in bad shape so to the vandalism. But it still had a interest ing hidden stairway behind the fire place with Windows at the top to shoot guns out of. I think there is much more around that cabin that needs to be found. Lots of mistery surrounding that cabin and mansion.

Kim Retrokimmer said...

thank you great info!

Anonymous said...

I have so many great memories at lost lake . I went many times as a boy scout. Im saddened that it closed what a waste

stan sorensen said...

Very interesting, indeed.Did Harry Bennet also have a room used as an armory in his concrete home? I understand he was quite paranoid.

SavoryBrown said...

For sale $3.75M

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