Cold War Home Built 26 Feet Underground
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.