Benson Ford Shiphouse Tours Offered on Put-in-Bay

For two days this summer, visitors can get a glimpse of Put-in-Bay's most intriguing home.

If you take the Jet Express to Put-in-Bay, you'll see what appears to be half a ship sticking out of the cliff.

And that is exactly what you're looking at.

This summer, the curious will have a chance to tour the Benson Ford Shiphouse on June 11 or Aug. 27. (Tickets cost $40 each, include a commemorative cup and are available here.) Here's a bit more about the ship — and the tour:

Was the Benson Ford a real ship? Yes! It hauled iron across the Great Lakes for more than 50 years before being decommissioned.

How did it get to Put-in-Bay? It was put there by Frank Sullivan, who purchased the freighter following its long career of shuttling materials for the Ford Motor Co. to and from ports in Ohio, Michigan and Canada, according to an article in Ohio Magazine. The 612-foot vessel spent the early ’80s in the Cuyahoga River while Sullivan decided what to do with it. Ultimately, he chose to turn the front deck into a home, paying to have it removed and installed at Put-in-Bay. 

What's the deal with the ship now? It's a private home owned by Bryan Kasper, who won ownership of the 7,000-square-foot home in a 1999 auction. 

Who benefits from the tour? Kasper allows tours of the home, but does not profit from them. Proceeds usually range from about $15,000 to $20,000, according to event organizer Paul Jeris, and are used to fund community projects, such as the Put-in-Bay sign that was installed last year

Thirsty for more? In honor of his home, Kasper has created Shiphouse Vodka, which comes packaged in a glass bottle shaped just like the front half of the Benson Ford. 

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