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Home | News | Regional | 90-year-old cargo ship serving as holiday home hanging over cliff on Lake Erie

90-year-old cargo ship serving as holiday home hanging over cliff on Lake Erie

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  • Ship originally transported iron and coal for Ford motor company
  • Interior designed by Henry Ford and Thomas Edison was a passenger
  • Was decommissioned in 1981 after nearly 50 years of service
  • Ship's forecastle removed and hung over Lake Erie as a holiday home

By Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 08:33 EST, 6 January 2014 | UPDATED: 08:49 EST, 6 January 2014

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During its time in service this cargo ship played host to illustrious guests such as Henry Ford and Thomas Edison.

From the time it was built in 1924, the boat was also used to transport coal and iron ore across the American lakes.

After being decommissioned in 1981 it was left to rust for four years before the front part of the ship was removed, sailed to Lake Erie, and perched on top of an 18 foot cliff to serve as a holiday home.

The Benson Ford was originally a cargo ship for the Ford motor company, but has been converted into a holiday home hanging above Lake Erie

The Benson Ford was originally a cargo ship for the Ford motor company, but has been converted into a holiday home hanging above Lake Erie

Looking over the bow, which dangles 18 foot above the Lake, it still looks as if the boat is sailing

Looking over the bow, which dangles 18 foot above the Lake, it still looks as if the boat is sailing

The ship still contains wood paneled state rooms, dining room and lounge designed by Henry Ford

The ship still contains wood paneled state rooms, dining room and lounge designed by Henry Ford

The boat was used by Ford himself to travel across the American Lakes and Thomas Edison also took a ride

The boat was used by Ford himself to travel across the American Lakes and Thomas Edison also took a ride

The four-deck, 7,000 square foot getaway is made out of the ship's forecastle and includes the walnut paneled state rooms, dining room, galley, and passenger lounge designed by Henry Ford for his own personal use while on board.

The ship-house was originally owned by Frank J Sullivan, but after trying and failing to turn it into a hotel in 1992, Sullivan eventually auctioned the building to father and son Jerry and Bryan Kaspar, who still like to relax there while taking time off work.

However it has been modernised with a garage, a game room, bar, state-of-the-art kitchen and four bathrooms.

Don't look down: Tourists may need a head for heights if they take a tour out onto the bow of the boat

Don't look down: Tourists may need a head for heights if they take a tour out onto the bow of the boat

The four-storey, 7,000sq ft home has kept the historic interior and updated it with some modern technology

The four-storey, 7,000sq ft home has kept the historic interior and updated it with some modern technology

Along with the original features the ship's forecastle now has a garage, kitchen, bar and games room

Along with the original features the ship's forecastle now has a garage, kitchen, bar and games room

After being decommissioned in 1981 the front part of the boat was removed and sailed to the Lake
It was perched on top of the cliff in 1986 where it has remained to this day

New life: After being decommissioned in 1981 the ship was left to rust but in 1986 the forecastle was removed (left) before being sailed to Lake Erie and perched on top of a cliff (right) where it remains to this day

Tourists are also able to take guided walks around the vessel which hangs 18 feet above the surface of Lake Erie.

Bryan Kaspar said: 'Everyone that sees it is intrigued to look inside and I think everyone that looks inside is amazed at the woodwork throughout the ship.

'Also from the bow it almost feels like you are on the water because of its close proximity to Lake Erie.

Frank J Sullivan, who first converted the vessel, tried to turn it into a hotel in 1992 but was denied permission

Frank J Sullivan, who first converted the vessel, tried to turn it into a hotel in 1992 but was denied permission

Sullivan sold it to father and son Jerry and Bryan Kaspar in 1999 who now allow guided tours around the house

Sullivan sold it to father and son Jerry and Bryan Kaspar in 1999 who now allow guided tours around the house

The impressive getaway includes five bedrooms, four bathrooms, a captain's office and living room with panoramic views out across the Lake

The impressive getaway includes five bedrooms, four bathrooms, a captain's office and living room with panoramic views out across the Lake

'I love the deck on the fourth floor - It's a great place to enjoy a cocktail overlooking the lake and the nearby cliffs and watching the sunset is amazing from there.'

Videographer Nick James, who conducts tours of the hotel, said: 'The most incredible part is standing at the helm and the way the boat hangs over the cliff it actually feels like you are out on the open water.

'I love the history that is still all around in the Benson Ford. In the parlour you can just imagine Thomas Edison and Henry Ford sitting smoking their cigars.

'When you're there it feels as though you step back in time and they could appear at any moment.'

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