11.01.2010

HARRY BENNETT'S CASTLE PM MAGAZINE VIDEO


Exciting news! My friend actually taped a PM Magazine TV interview inside Harry Bennett's Castle circa 1984 on her VCR. The interviewer takes us inside the castle! Watch this video taken from a very old VHS tape.

In the video I found for the first time that Harry was shot in the foyer of this home. He survived and thus began his campaign of building gun turets and the many secret tunnels to be used for escape from real or imagined enemies.

Also actual footage of the lion and tiger dens built under the home. I thought the big cats might be a rumor but they really were allowed to run free on the fenced in property at night.

My friend also saw the customized/authentic sized bar in the basement. The new owners had packed the bar full of stuff for storage space! What a waste! He had the built to look like a ship. She couldn't see if the original billiard table was still there or removed. The property had an extensive security camera system built in for added security and Harry kept up to 64 gun men in the gun turrets and on the roof top as well. IN 1984 there was a jacuzzi spa on the roof too! Only accessible from the master bedroom. All the bedrooms were on the upper floors. Notice too how low the ceilings were for a "castle". Also how narrow the staircase is going to the second floor. The interviewer has to duck his head to get through the doorway. Read more on Harry: The Castle Rise and Fall of Harry Bennett Harry's Lodge in Clare, MI NEW PHOTOS Henry Ford Unmasked at Last!! June 2, 2003 BY SHERYL JAMES DETROIT FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER It was Sept. 21, 1945 -- the date of the famous executive shootout at the Ford Motor Co. On one side of Henry Ford II's office at the company's Rouge complex in Dearborn was young Henry himself. He was 28, a tall man with a boxy build. Moments earlier, he had been voted president of his grandfather's company. Facing him was Harry Bennett, 53, America's most-reviled corporate thug, the very stuff of wax museums. Head of the infamous Ford Service Department and for years a Rasputin-like confidant of an aging, ill Henry Ford, Bennett was vicious and powerful and everyone knew it, including Henry II. It was an understatement to say the men disliked one another. Ford eyed the short, stocky Bennett. Inside, he admitted later, he was flat-out scared of the guy. Bennett had good friends who were gangsters, several pet lions and a gun in his desk. Worse, he had everything to lose: Until that day, he believed old man Ford had fixed it so he would be president, not this spoiled Ford brat. But that was before the Ford women got involved, and now -- well, it was time for Henry II to rid the company of this cancer.
It’s funny to see the coverage that PM did. My mother is the one interviewed. Yes, Bennett had lions roaming the tunnels, watch dogs, 50 armed guards with a personal body guard as well. The design of the house was continuously changing. There use to be a tower off my bedroom. 
HB Pool in 1984
Rumor was a third tunnel leading down to the pool and the boathouse; as well as, a tunnel from the boathouse under the Huron river to the “island”. The third tunnel does exist.  Access to it is through the hidden room behind the hidden room. Which is where Bennett would lock people in at times. The Roman bath was indeed tiled and had a sink and toilet. at the end of the west tunnel Bennett signed his name is the concert along with his kids name and wife.  The house was my play ground. There were cement trees (only two). The Starks were the second owners of the 152 acres. Which they had broken up the land and selling it. When my parents bought the place we owned 9 acres. Which included the main house, the mother-in-laws house, the guest house (theater), an old pool (which use to be an indoor pool), two pastures, the boathouse (which has the mural painted inside), then there was what we called “duck land”.  Duck land had little houses with a damn and a replica of the White House! And ,yes there was a light house as well. In Bennett’s day the property was beautiful. At some point, the property didn’t have the same care as in Bennett’s time. Indoor pool collapsed. Overgrowth. On another note: it was a fun house to throw a party in! :) It was also, a scary place at night. From experience, this place was very haunted! The basement and tunnels were filled with noises. Foot steps, televisions turning on, the sinks turning on, and much much more. I know, because I grew up there.

13 comments:

Dee Gilbert said...

I want to live there... :)

RedGiantProd. said...

Man, I want that house too (if the-price-is-right). Still, there must be a boat-load of nightmares in there.

Eric Rasmussen said...

Very cool!

Anonymous said...

I live a few miles from the Bennett Castle and went to high school with the daughter of a previous owner. The house is really interesting and has a tremendous historical value to S.E. Michigan. The tunnels are creepy.

One of my friends in in his late 70's and grew up within walking distance of the property. He has great stories how he & the neighborhood kids used to feed and tease the lions through the wrought iron fence.

Connie Spencer Garmany said...

Kim~you have the most interesting information ever on Michigan...you never cease to amaze me...ha!
I'm home sick with a nasty cold :( You're probably out with the Ruiners or at some fun or haunted place :)
Every time I stop in at The Great Lakes Chocolate place for my frozen caramel-mocha drink, I look for you!

I'm getting quite the history lessons from you. Just caught up on my daily Retro Kimmer's Newsletter. Can't live without them now! You are awesome & should be the most important Michigan historian EVER!
Hope all is well with you!

XOXO Connie

SKIP ANGELLOTTI said...

Harry Bennett was my grandfather.

Mary Baker said...

Very cool indeed. Its nice to see the information his grandson and son in law shared with me.

Anonymous said...

How about going to a pre-school on the grounds of the Castle? I did in the early 1960s.

This was when the Stark Family owned the castle. "Aunt Dorothy" lived in the hunting lodge and ran a day care centre. I believe they owned the property up until the 1970s. I believe it was called Island Country Day School.

I have to admit it was much more fun for a little kid to be there since my imagination could run wild.

We went up to visit the castle and called it "Nana's Castle".

I found this while trying to find some pictures of the Castle.

Also, Bennett was an Associate of the Purple gang. There were stories that the cops would chase gang members to the Castle and stop at the front gate!

Anonymous said...

Island Country Day was in the Log Cabin Lodge on the property, not the other lodge.

Retro Kimmer said...

ok nursery school person...we need to chat...email me plzzzzzzz retrokimmer@gmail.com

Richard Lowell said...

I installed the Hot Tub off the master bedroom while working for California Comfort Systems. You will notice in the video there are insulated copper pipes that run from the boiler room across the hall open up a sliding book case that enters into a roman style bathroom. From that bath area the pipes run down the west tunnel towards the garage or lion cage area then to a heat exchanger, and then up the spiral stair case to the balcony off the master bedroom where the tub was installed. I was drilling holes into the tunnels ceiling to install anchors to mount the cooper pipes and thinking to myself this doesn't feel right damaging a piece of history, and then I noticed scribe into the concrete on the radius of the tunnel ceiling Harry Bennett 1938. I must say is was pretty cool experience seeing the place and being part of a history even if it didn't feel right. Richard Lowell - Ann Arbor, MI.

Anonymous said...

I went to a party here when I was a teenager. The Stark girls were in my school. I have been telling people stories about this castle for years and now I have proof I was not making it all up. I am curious if his cabin that was for sale across the river on Stark Strasse Rd was his get away location once he got to the doc at the edge of the river. Also is it just coincidence the road is Stark Strasse? That has nothing to do with the previous owners does it? Also there is a secret room off the tunnel. You had to push one of the cement blocks in or something. Anyone remember that? Such a small world. I even know the guy who was the host in this video!

Anonymous said...

Hi Kim, I am also obsessed with HB and his castle. I have been in it because I knew the Stark girls. I posted some questions and comments but not sure I did it correctly so not sure it will show up. I found the answer to one of my questions in this article below. I don't believe you have posted this. Yes that street across the river where the other cabin is was named after the Stark family. This has some more interesting information about Henry, the castle and even an interaction he had with the Starks.
http://www.retrokimmer.com/2010/11/letters-from-harry-bennetts-grandson.html

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