Cold War Home Built 26 Feet Underground

By on September 8, 2013

Underground shelters built in fear of a nuclear attack were usually cramped spaces with just enough amenities to survive a few months. When wealthy recluse Girard “Jerry” B. Henderson built his Cold War bunker in 1978, he decided to ride out the end of the world in style.

The subterranean paradise at 3970 Spencer St. in Las Vegas was built 26 feet underground. At ground level a 2-bedroom caretaker house sits on the property. In the backyard, ventilation and air-conditioning units jut up from the dirt. Rocks conceal stairways and an elevator that lead down to the AstroTurf-covered front yard of the home below.

With its own generator and fuel tank, the home could sustain life for a year with a fully-stocked pantry in the event of a nuclear attack.

Henderson’s underground retreat includes a pool, two jacuzzis, a sauna, an outdoor BBQ grill inside a large fake rock, a dance floor, a putting green in the garden, adjustable light settings to match various times of the day and a hand-painting 360-degree mural of locations familiar to Henderson. A one-bedroom guest cabana is located beside the pool.

A tunnel once connected the house to the office building next door where Henderson worked, but that property was sold separately after Henderson’s death and the tunnel was filled in.

The Las Vegas house was the second bunker home designed and constructed by Texas contractors Kenneth and Jay Swayze for Henderson at a cost of $10 million. The first home is located somewhere near Boulder, Colorado.

Jay Swayze was a passionate advocate of underground living, authoring a book titled Underground gardens & homes: The best of two worlds, above and below.

After Henderson’s death in 1983, followed by his wife’s in 1989, the property passed to a distant relative. It was sold, and then lost to the bank due to foreclosure. It can be yours now for a mere $1.7 million, down from the 2001 price tag of $8 million.

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16 Comments

  1. Kari

    August 28, 2015 at 10:01 pm

    I used to live next door to this house for 2 years…. My cat loved playing on their “Roof”. looked like a big abandoned lot of dirt with giant rocks… there is also an above ground portion of the house that faces the street.

    • Holly

      September 2, 2016 at 11:27 am

      Hi Kari! Do you know the address of the house? I’d like to write the current owners a letter about the possibility of photographing there and can’t seem to find information about the home. This would be so helpful!
      Thank you!
      -Holly
      http://WWW.HOLLYJOPHOTO.COM

      • Wiggles

        September 9, 2016 at 11:46 am

        3970 Spencer St Las Vegas, NV 89119

        It just sold again for 1.15m. I wanted to buy it. Only thing that stopped me was the whole not having a million dollars part

    • SHANE CORBIN

      December 4, 2016 at 3:43 pm

      I had the pleasure of replacing all of the air conditioning systems there. Spent many days below ground before it was all gutted.

  2. Texas Arcane

    August 26, 2015 at 7:51 pm

    Just the comments alone on this page tells you that Amerikwa is already a post-apocalyptic nightmare full of post-humans. The sheer naivete of people to believe this place has no exits or air filtration system. This facility has one of the most advanced air processing plants in all of Las Vegas.

  3. Wobbler

    August 14, 2015 at 6:06 am

    It’d make a great man-cave.

  4. Bill

    August 4, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    Sold for 1.15 million April 2014.

    A bargain for 16,000 sqft.

  5. Daniel

    February 22, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    Reminds me of the underground bunker in the movie Blast from the Past.

    • Bee Man

      April 4, 2014 at 4:39 pm

      Thank you. I was trying to remember the name. Exactly.

  6. Morley

    December 14, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    One thing nobody ever seemed to think of when they built these things is that they would need a completely independent air supply that is not connected to the surface to survive. Otherwise the incoming air would be full of radioactive isotopes and would kill the inhabitant much more slowly and painfully than if they were on the surface during the strike.

    • Kevin Coughlin

      January 1, 2014 at 12:53 pm

      Actually, it is the particles IN the air that carry the radiation. Air can be filtered (now, changing those filters might be dang dangerous….). Of course, a near hit would still mess with the air handlers and such….

  7. tjjames@aol.com

    December 8, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    More info about this property:

    http://www.lasvegasundergroundhouse.com/

  8. Niels Rold

    November 30, 2013 at 12:35 am

    Nolan, if you were old enough to remember the cold war and the over hanging threat of atom war, then you would see this as a piece of heaven…….I learned how to get under my desk in elementary school because of the other “Power”
    for Gods sake……..

    • Jesse

      December 1, 2013 at 8:53 pm

      I’d still rather be vapourized

    • Cat

      August 5, 2016 at 4:39 pm

      I also did the old “duck and cover” at school. A book over your head while under your desk was suppose to shield you from radiation. We did have a couple of community radiation shelters, but I don’t recall anything like food, air filters, etc. I was terrified whenever they blew the test sirens. I sure hope we don’t go back to that, because we all know only the top government and top 1/10 of 1% and a few others would survive. Just imagine the fear for our kids and ourselves.

  9. Nolan

    November 26, 2013 at 4:04 am

    The most horrendous, nightmarish abode I’ve ever seen. Like a Tim Burton vision of sub-urban America only entombed 26 feet underground with no escape.

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