Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ford Henchman, Harry Bennett, and His Hidden Estate in Ypsilanti

Harry Bennett and Henry Ford
During the turbulent 1920's and 1930's, the automobile manufactures stood firm against trade unionism. Government and industry viewed the American labor movement as European socialism. With the overthrow of the Czar in Russia in 1919, the fear of communism was a tangible political reality for America.

The Ford Motor Company was having none of it. On the Ford payroll was one Harry Bennett. Harry had a special assignment - he was to coordinate resistance against the United Auto Workers and their leaders like Walter Reuther, who had his head busted open with a tire thumper while striking against Ford at "The Battle of the Overpass" across Miller Road. Bennett had hired local gangsters to rough up the strikers or worst. He was Henry Ford's hatchet man.

Thugs closing in on Reuther and UAW officials
Harry Bennett wasn't popular, but he was powerful. After a couple of death threats, Ford had a fortified retreat built for Bennett in a remote spot just outside of Ypsilanti near Geddes and LeForge roads.

The property was surrounded by an iron fence and gun turrets were evident in the design of the estate, all made from Ford cement and steel. There were several out buildings and there was a compound on the sprawling property for lions and tigers, which it was said were there to protect the grounds if need be.They weren't there to represent Detroit's professional sports teams.

The Huron River abutted the property, so Bennett could made a hasty retreat through an escape tunnel if he found himself under attack. He had a boathouse with a boat gassed up and ready to go on a moment's notice. In an emergency, it would take only an hour to reach Lake Erie.

See the link for more information. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0jyOfSg0P8

1 comment:

  1. Greg, Here is a link to a Bing map of the Estate as it looks today......