The Story of the Harry
About Harry Bennett
Why does someone build a concrete
cabin with a mote, hidden concrete bunker, and a machine gun
Do you know more about the Harry Bennett Lodge or what
happened there? If so please email
firstname.lastname@example.org the information so that that it
can be added to this site.
Harry Bennett (1892-1979) was the head of the Ford Motor Company
"Service" department. This wasn't for servicing
automobiles. Instead it was a "Security" department set up top
"deal" with the growing labor unrest and the labor unions.
Bennett also provided personal protection to Henry Ford and his
family. He wasn't on the payroll officially until late in his
career. Instead, he was paid personally by Henry Ford in cash
Harry Bennett had a "Lodge" built on 2385 acres of land in
Michigan's Freeman Township. Freeman Township is in a remote
part of central Michigan - Clare, Michigan is the closest
city.. The estate contained 3 lakes, and the lodge was built
on the largest of them, Lost Lake.
The Boy Scouts of America acquired the land in 1964 for $365,000
from the federal government and ran a Boy Scout summer camp called
Lost Lake Scout Reservation. The camp closed at the end of the
Harry Bennett was born in Ann Arbor. It is believed Harry grew
up as a tough guy. Harry's father died in a brawl when Harry
was an infant.
Harry Bennett (Left) with Henry Ford (center) and John Corlisle
(right) - University of Michigan Photo.
Harry started in the Ford art department in 1917. He was later
appointed to head watchman. Harry ruled the Ford Rouge Plant
with an iron fist. Many people say he had more influence over
Henry Ford than Henry Fords own son.
Harry was a violent man and was involved in several altercations
with the union movement. One such event was the union conflict
that occurred at the Ford Rouge Plant in Dearborn, Michigan in 1937,
"The Battle of the Overpass." In the 1930s Ford was resisting
the union movement. Henry Ford stated that he would never
capitulate to the unions. He wanted to stay in control of the
company and the workers. He used Harry Bennett to rule by fear
and intimidation. Harry hired spies and thugs to staff his
"Service Department." The UAW decided to organize a
demonstration at the plant to hand out information leaflets.
Before it could get started the union people were met by Bennett's
security force and were intimidated and beaten. However, the
newspaper reporters were already on scene and documented the
skirmish. While Ford prevented the demonstration, Ford was
losing the battle for public opinion. Three years later the
UAW and ford signed a labor agreement.
At one time, Harry Bennett was in line to succeed Henry Ford as
president but that job went to Henry Ford II. Henry Ford II
promptly fired Bennett. Bennett never had gainful employment
after Ford. In 1979 he died in a nursing home in California
after a heart attack.
There is plenty of examples of what Harry's role was at the Ford
Motor Company that this page will not go into. If you want to
research Harry Bennett more a good place to start it is the Wikipedia entry.
The Harry Bennett Lodge
Given Harry Bennett's occupation, it is no surprise that he was
fearful of an attack from his enemies. He also needed a secure
place that law enforcement could not reach. So Harry built two
fortress style buildings. One was his residence in Ann Arbor,
Michigan and the other a lodge in central Michigan. The
central Michigan Lodge was actively used by the staff and scouts
attending the Lost Lake Scout Reservation. The staff at the
camp is somewhat aware of the history of the Lodge and its
occupants. Over time, there have been reports of ghosts and
other strange events occurring in or near the lodge.
I have been to Lost Lake Scout Reservation (both of my boys attended
Lost Lake and are now Eagle Scouts) every year from 2000 to
2011. I was intrigued by the little publicized history of the
Lost Lake Scout Reservation and took these pictures in 2002.
The most unique feature of the Lodge is that it is not what it
appears to be. The entire structure appears
to be made of logs and wood in typical log cabin style.
Picture of South Facing side of Bennett Lodge.
But instead of wood, the entire structure is made of concrete.
Thick Concrete. And someone spent a lot
of time detailing the concrete to look like wood.
Close up of Bennett Lodge "concrete cabin"
Yes that is all concrete. The "knots" were formed in the
concrete and "logs" around the window were groove to look like real
logs. This is a very large multi-story structure and it was
all built with this attention to detail.
Picture showing the front of Bennett Lodge.
The photo above shows some of the front of the lodge. This is the
West facing side and is right on Lost Lake. The large porch
off the front is also concrete.
View from the West side of Bennett Lodge
Above is the view of Lost Lake from the porch area of the
Lodge. Bennett Lodge was and to this day (March 2013) is the
only structure on Lost Lake. The area pictured is the swimming
area the boy scouts use.
The Concrete Cabin
So why does someone build a huge concrete structure in the
North-woods of Michigan? There are plenty of theories.
It certainly makes sense that Harry was concerned for his safety so
he may have built it for protection. There are also
plenty of stories of wild parties involving prostitutes, thugs, Ford
employees, and the Mob. There are theories that people were
taken there to be "disposed of."
What we do know is that the concrete cabin had some unusual
features. We can only guess their purpose but some of the
items that I have seen for myself do make you wonder. Who
builds a mote? And a Secret Passageway? A machine gun
When I was attending Boy Scout Camp with my son the staff offered a
tour of the Bennett Lodge. During the tour they would point
out some of interesting things about Bennett Lodge and the items in
it. Certainly there was some exaggeration occurring to make it
more interesting for the young scouts. But some of the things
really do make you think about what went on at Bennett Lodge.
Lets start with the mote. Yes, there actually is a mote around
Bennett Lodge. There is a bridge that crosses it for access to
the Lodge itself. According to the stories this bridge was rigged
with dynamite that could be remotely detonated to prevent a
vehicle attack on the compound. Of course there is no way to
verify that! But we can see from the Google satellite image
that their is a mote. The tree cover obscures it some but
there is no doubt about it when you are there looking at it.
It definitely appears to be man made. There is no current.
Google Image showing Bennett Lodge on Lost Lake
The X in the photo above shows the location of Bennett Lodge.
The circled area show the mote. The circle is positioned
outside the actual mote so you can see the mote itself. On the
north side you can see the line pretty clearly. It is harder
to see on the south side but there is water there also.
Ground level view of the Mote
It is also believed that the mote was "spiked" with large metal
spikes. This was to prevent people or vehicles from crossing
the mote. For the safety of the scouts the spikes were
removed. During the tour of Bennett Lodge we were shown one of
Metal Spike from Bennett Lodge mote. Also shows license plate
found in lake.
The Bullet Proof Glass
According to the scouts tour guide the entire cabin was
fitted with 1 inch thick "bullet proof" glass. The scouts
removed the thick windows over time and only a few pieces of the
glass remain. On the tour I attended they had a piece of the
glass but I failed to take a picture of it.
The Secret Ladder to The Machine Gun Turret
"Stan the Buffalo Man" talks about Bennett Lodge history.
Inside the living room is the main fireplace.
In the photo above Stan is standing in front of the main fireplace
inside of the Bennett Lodge living room. Note the nice slate
floor and "wood" mantle. The mantle is actually hand painted
and hand formed concrete! The slate floor was a two level
semicircle design with a custom built-in sofa where the higher floor
encompassed the sofa.
After the talk we were able to look inside the fireplace. The
fireplace is no longer used for heat. Looking inside we could
see a wrought iron ladder that was secured to the back of the
fireplace. This ladder led up the chimney. The chimney
is large enough for person to fit through. At the top of the ladder
was a small turret roof. Not sure if I would want to
climb the ladder while a fire was going!
Bennett Lodge Turret
Above is a picture showing the back side of the chimney.
On the roof was a large cement (of course) roof. This is where
the machine gun was supposedly mounted. There were iron
mounting plates still attached to the top of the roof that looked
like it could be for mounting a large machine gun. As you can
see the roof could also be accessed from the outside by a spiral
The Lodge came to the Boy Scouts furnished. Over time many
items have been discarded but some neat items remain. This
main table in the living room is one of those.
Flip Top table in Harry Bennett Lodge.
This table has a hinged top. According to our tour guide,
Harry Bennett would store guns under the table top. This way
the firepower would be near at hand and his guests would be none the
The Swimming Pool "Window"
The lodge had an attached in ground swimming pool. The boy
scouts used the pool for many years but over time it developed
cracks in the concrete. It was too expensive to repair so they
filled it in. They also had to remove some other areas
near the swimming pool that were unsafe.
Bennett Lodge Pool.
The above picture shows the window (white rectangle area) that was
installed in the pool. The pool is filled in with dirt
now. If you look closely you can see where the ceiling was cut
away in this area. At one time this was the bar and the
patron's on the bar could sit on their stools and look through the
window at the pool. The window was below the water line.
Rumor has it that Harry Bennett would hold big parties and they
would bring in local girls from town who they would pay to skinny
dip in the pool. Supposedly they did not tell the women about
the window. If you have a picture of this area before the
ceiling was removed or the pool filled in please let me know.
Bennett Lodge concrete cut.
Here is a close up view of where the ceiling was cut away.
Look at the high aggregate content of that cement! According
to the scouts, the contractor who did this work took a huge loss
because this concrete was so strong that it was very hard to cut and
The "blood red" basement.
The lodge has a basement level that is accessed by a traditional
There are many rooms in the basement area including a finished
library (that we will discuss soon). This room below has
a red painted floor. According to our guide this is the
original paint and the stories say the this is where victims were
taken to be shot. The blood red paint was there to make
Lodge basement floor painted red.
Legend has it that Harry Bennett would invite people up to the lodge
for parties and vacations but some never returned. They
would meet their maker here in the basement.
The Library and the Secret Stairway
I have heard of secret passages in movies but this is the first one
I have seen in real life. And this isn't just a secret room
but an actual passage to another area.
Scouts going into the secret passage.
Here our tour group is going into the passage. As you can sort
of make out the library room of the lodge is paneled and has book
shelves on the wall. Below is a better picture of the secret
passage door half way open. When closed it looked like an
ordinary bookshelf. When full of books nobody would know it
Secret Passage Entrance
According to a former camper and Eagle Scout when he was there the
bookcase was filled with books. About half way up on the far
right side, there was a book with a rope attached to it. When
the book was pulled, the rope would release a latch that secured the
Once inside here is what you see.
The blue floor is the same level as the library floor..rounding the
corner you see
The rest of the stairs
These stairs lead to an underground bunker. Each stair is a
different length and some are pitched at odd angles. As you
can also see there is no hand rail and no lighting. According
to the stories the stairs were made irregular on purpose.
Harry Bennett and his henchmen would practice running down these
stairs in the dark. People pursuing them would have a
difficult time traversing the stairs in the dark and the irregular
shapes and angles were designed to cause people unfamiliar with them
The Underground Bunker
At the bottom of the secret stairway was the underground
bunker. This was a story under the basement level. The
walls, floor, and ceiling were all made from thick concrete.
This picture is taken from the bottom of the secret stairway
stairs. The people are going out an exit built into the
bunker. This exit goes to outside to the moat area on the
south side of the lodge. Here, the story is, a speedboat was
always waiting so an escape could be made across the lake.
Once across the lake there was a car waiting that would take them to
the airfield for escape.
The above photo shows the view from the exit back towards the secret
passage stairs. The wooden lockers were added by the
scouts. The swimming and boating staff members used this area
as a changing room and locker area. Not pictured (I don't
think it is there any longer) is a full size mirror that came with
the Lodge. On my first tour of the lodge a story was told
about "The Lady of Lake" that this mirror was a subject of.
This story scared the young scouts enough that I don't think they
tell it anymore.
Here is a close up of the bunker exit. Enough concrete for ya?
The Future of Bennett Lodge
As of this writing (March 2013) the lodge is still standing and in
pretty much the same condition as shown in these photos.
However, the scouts did struggle with what to do with the
Lodge. It is a very sturdy structure but does need upkeep and
it is very expensive to repair this type of building.
The Boy Scouts of America closed the Lost Lake Scout Reservation at
the end of the 2012 camp season. The entire camp is a magical
place that has been used by thousands of youth. The closing of
the camp prompted me to create this page so the Harry Bennett Lodge
story would be saved. If you have more information or
corrections that you would like added to the site please email at
Above is a picture of time eating away at the cement......
But Wait, There's more.
Stories (click on a story below to go to the Ghost
The Artesian well. There is an Artesian well at the
front of the Lodge. The water is clean cool and potable and
was used as drinking water by the staff and scouts. I drank
from this well many times but last I heard the well had been capped
The Tunnel. There is rumor that there is a tunnel under
the moat to the DeCorcy Lodge.
The Airstrip. There is an old airstrip at the
central west side of the property. This was actively used by
Harry Bennett and others to come and go.
The Castle. Harry also built a "castle" in Ann Arbor on
the Huron River. The castle was sold in 1948.
All images and content (unless noted under image) copyright
2013 Parker Thomas
University of Michigan
detroit news http://apps.detnews.com/apps/history/index.php?id=172
Ann Arbor News
Harry Bennett Castle Youtube