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.

21 replies
    • Avatar
      Adam says:

      I read your comment before watching and thought it couldn’t be that bad. When I saw the cupboards I thought “pass the knife”

    • Avatar
      Donna says:

      I agree. I was a teenager and young adult and I do not remember kitchen’s or bathrooms being pink in the late or mid 1970’s. Not that the rusts, purples, avocado green and gold looked much better. What comes to my mind, if there was a nuclear war would you really want to die down there. Where would you go if you were sick or injured. You would possibly die a slow agonizing death. No medicine, doctors or operating rooms. What about a toothache or abscessed tooth. The list could go on and on. For sure you would die of boredom. No sunlight or fresh food either. I guess I would rather die with the rest on the people on top of the ground. As far as a pink kitchen or bathroom I think that was in style in the late 59’s or early 60’s. It did make a comeback
      in the late 80’s or early 90’s.

  1. Avatar
    Kari says:

    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.

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    Texas Arcane says:

    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.

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    Morley says:

    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.

    • Avatar
      Kevin Coughlin says:

      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….

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    Niels Rold says:

    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……..

    • Avatar
      Cat says:

      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.

  5. Avatar
    Nolan says:

    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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