85°F
weather icon Clear

Famous underground Las Vegas house to open to public — PHOTOS

Updated April 2, 2018 - 10:00 am

It’s one of Las Vegas’ most famous homes and one shrouded in mystery that few people have ever seen.

It’s not the home of a celebrity or athlete that you can see on a bus tour or simply by driving by the address.

That’s because the home was built as a bomb shelter and is under the ground.

The famous Las Vegas property called The Underground House, 3970 Spencer St., will get a rare public viewing April 28 as part of a celebration of the city’s architectural history hosted by the Nevada Preservation Foundation. The gala, which will feature cocktails and appetizers, costs $150 a ticket; an extra $75 gets you access to a VIP reception.

There’s no more famous basement in Las Vegas than The Underground House. It was built in 1978 by entrepreneur Jerry Henderson and his wife, Mary. The site measures nearly 15,000 square feet, and the house sits 26 feet below the surface, but it’s not a normal basement.

It has its own midcentury-style, two-bedroom home measuring about 6,000 square feet and resembles many others built in Las Vegas in an earlier era. A 800-square-foot caretaker home sits in the rear. It doesn’t get sunshine, wind and rain, but it otherwise is like many other homes.

There’s a 6-foot-deep pool, a spa, a barbecue area, a carpeted six-hole putting green and even views when you look outside the window of the home or from the patio. It’s not the Strip city lights or surrounding mountains but murals of settings where the Hendersons had homes in upstate New York, Colorado, Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area.

The Underground House event is one of many foundation functions as part of Home + History Las Vegas weekend on April 27-29 to raise money for historic preservation in Nevada.

“This is our crowning event of the weekend,” said Suzey Sligh Van Ness, the events and giving manager for the foundation. “People have been wanting to see this house for years and been asking about it. To preservation people, it’s a must-see.”

The Underground House continues to have a sense of mystery to it, even with the acquisition in March 2014 by its new owner, which paid about $1.15 million. The new owner is the Society for the Preservation of Near Extinct Species, a self-described secretive group whose goal is to promote of human life extension.

What better way to do that than purchasing a property intended to preserve life in case of a nuclear blast?

“That was (the Hendersons’) idea to use it as a cold-war bunker and a reflection of the era they lived in,” said Tee Thompson, a society member who oversees The Underground House and is living in it. “Their concerns were valid to them, so they built a home 26 feet under the ground. This was their everyday home.”

Jerry Henderson was an investor in several companies. He had a company called Underground World Homes, which had an exhibit at the New York World’s Fair in 1964 and 1965 about living underground in the years following the Cuban missile crisis. Henderson also had an underground home in Colorado that measured about 45,000 square feet, Thompson said.

After Jerry Henderson died in 1983, his wife no longer wanted to live in the shelter. She built a town home on the surface, where she lived until she died in 1989. The entire property later ended up in foreclosure. Society President Mark Voelker resides in the town home.

The group has spent more than $1 million on improvements, including repairs to the sewage system and wiring and purchases of 1970s-era furniture that suited the home.

“We have done quite a bit of preservation, and aesthetically we tried to keep everything in line as it was when it was originally built,” Thompson said. “We have brought on professional artists when we have to do repairs on the walls to match what’s already existing.”

When the foundation asked if the home could be part of the annual gala, Thompson said the group wants to be part of the community and make people aware of the historic home and what’s been done to preserve it.

“When you go down there, you’re in a capsule and go back in time,” she said about the event, which is limited to 100 tickets. “It’s amazing to know at the same time we’re keeping the mystery of the home, which is part of the legacy.”

There’s a small elevator, but the home is accessed from a flight of stairs that’s now part of the lower level of the town home. The Underground House has lighting that emulates different times of the day. It has green carpeting in the patio area, and faux trees serve as hidden steel beams. Mountain and wilderness murals depict an outdoor setting. Rocks from the area near the Hendersons’ Colorado home site were used for landscaping.

The home is cooled with nine air-conditioning and has heating units and two ventilation systems. It runs off the valley’s electric grid and circulates air from the outside, both of which would prevent it from being used as a bomb shelter if the electrical system were destroyed and air contaminated, Thompson said.

Even though it’s built with concrete and steel, the home could not withstand a nuclear blast, Thompson said.

“He was thinking if there’s a nuclear bomb that they would survive down here,” she said. “According to science, we don’t believe it would survive a nuclear explosion. It would not be able to take the impact.”

Thompson said the group gets “unique letters” in which people ask if they can live there in the case of an emergency.

“There are still people that believe in the apocalyptic phenomenon,” she said. “People do a lot of prepping for these kind of emergencies. It’s not gone away, and pretty prevalent now if you look at social media.”

The home has two bedrooms and three baths. One was built for Mary Henderson at a cost of $30,000, Thompson said. Her bedroom and bath feature silk pink wallpaper.

It’s like many other homes with a dining room, living room and audiovisual room. The bar has short stools: Mary Henderson was less than 5 feet tall and her husband not much taller. The kitchen has pink-trimmed flooring and cabinetry and has an original toaster built into the wall and a food processor in a cabinet.

Thompson said it’s been a fascinating experience to live in the home. When you get up in the morning, she said, you expect the sun to hit you in the face and wake you up. Instead, you have to make your own light.

“I get to choose whether I want it day, night, dusk or dawn,” Thompson said. “When it is dark, it is pitch black, and it’s very peaceful and quiet. I don’t get to hear the outside elements. It’s beautiful being down here. If you’re not focused on what you’re doing, you lose track of time.”

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Real Estate Millions Videos
Lake Las Vegas Henderson Home - Video
The views of Lake Las Vegas from 8 Rue Promenade Way are panoramic and through each arched window, postcard-perfect. Impeccably groomed shores, waterfalls, golf courses, and upscale living define the exclusive landscape. But it's the European-inspired, 7,000-square-foot home with floor-to-ceiling windows, stone fireplaces, curved stairways, French doors and ample nooks and balconies that suggest palatial hideaway.
Real Estate Millions: "Property Brothers" design a "drag room" - VIDEO
"Property Brothers" reached out to Las Vegas entertainer Frank Marino to design a "drag room" for Mark Hooker, who is performing as his stage persona “Margo Caprese,” known as the Vintage Vegas Vixen, in Las Vegas. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sun City Summerlin Dream Home - Real Estate Millions
Bob and Doralee have recently built there new dream retirement home in Sun City that mimics the style of there previous home.
Top 10 Most Expensive Homes in Las Vegas - Video
These are the top 10 most expensive homes sold in Las Vegas.
Lake Las Vegas Blue Heron Vantage Views
Video courtesy Lake Las Vegas Media/Drone Las Vegas & Black Room Productions
Golden Knight's owner Bill Foley's House for sale in The Ridges - Real Estate Millions
Peter Lik Designs Homes In Las Vegas - Video
Photographer Peter Lik has teamed up with Jewel Homes to design new homes for Las Vegas that take inspiration from different parts of the world.
Real Estate Millions: Temple Rock Court Boulder City
Temple Rock Court features four bedrooms, fourth bathrooms and is listed at $1.5 million.
Mount Charleston Home - Real Estate Millions
Louis Castle shows off his Mount Charleston home with beautiful view of the mountain.
Pardee Homes Terra Luna Wins Home Of The Year - VIDEO
Pardee Homes' Terra Luna in Summerlin wins the Silver Nugget's 2019 home of the year award.
Real Estates Millions: Midcentury Remodel - Video
Originally built in 1966, this Midcentury Remodel has been modernized to appeal to the masses. The larger than life windows brighten up the entire home and offer brilliant views of the nearby mountains and golf course.
Real Estate Millions: Lake Las Vegas (23 Summer House Drive)
Real Estate Millions: Angeles Home In MacDonald Highlands - VIDEO
Angeles Scorsetti's nearly 10,000-square-foot home she and her husband, Steve Mason, purchased on the Dragon Ridge Golf Course and spent six months remodeling, leaving behind their Mandarin Oriental penthouse where they lived 8 years above the Strip.
Real Estate Millions: Boulder City Home - VIDEO
Mal Farmer takes us on a tour of her Bolder City home that she remodeled and lived it with her late husband Richard for over 30 years.
Real Estate Million: 27 Shadow Canyon Court - VIDEO
27 Shadow Canyon is a $5.5 million dollar home is 9,825 square-feet with six bedrooms and 7 baths. Shadow Canyon is equipped with an assortment of Tesla Amenities including power walls, solar panels, and an electric car.
Real Estate Millions: 2019 New American Remodel
Real Estate Millions: Las Vegas Motorcoach Resort - VIDEO
Various RV owners living in the community of the Las Vegas Motorcoach Resorts gives the crew a tour of their motor homes.
Real Estate Millions: Brett Raymer's Tanked Home - VIDEO
Brett Raymer from the TV show "Tanked" gives us a look into his 4 story home on the edge of Lone mountain. What would a tanked home be without a 700-gallon custom aquarium in the kitchen and a 6,000-gallon Koi pond in its resort-style backyard.
Real Estate Millions: 460 Probst Way
460 Probst Way is listed for $4.5 million and has 5 bedrooms, 6 baths, 4 car garage and is 6,738 square feet. The home is in a gated compound with an outdoor pool, deck, and kitchen with near 360 degree of the las vegas valley. The house will be auctioned on April 26-29th.
Real Estate Millions: Home + History Tour - VIDEO
A 1963 Paradise Palms home. Originally called the Monterey, the open floor plan features a living, dining and kitchen area in main living area, original hardwood flooring, original central vac system, both master bathrooms have original starburst tile and vanities, fully renovated kitchen with quartz counters and new appliances, waterfall edge island with counter seating, ‘Cosmos,’ a Soviet-inspired lounge with fog machine, laser lights, sound system and full bar, fresh paint, retro furnishings, new carpet, pool, pool deck with seating and covered bar, lifetime block and steel construction.
Real Estate Millions: Jim Rhodes Home Most Expensive In Las Vegas - VIDEO
Jim Rhodes has created the most expensive home on the market in Las Vegas. The home is listed at $29,995,000, 9,798 sq. ft., 8 Bedrooms, 8 Full Baths, 2 Half Baths and has 360-degree views of the Las Vegas Strip.
Pawn Stars Rick Harrison Real Estate Millions - VIDEO
Reality TV star Rick Harrison from Pawn Stars shows his eccentric home off in the Red Rock Country Club. The house is 8,845 square feet. It has five bedrooms, seven bathrooms and three additional rooms. It is listed at $3,999,999.
Real Estate Millions: Boulder City Home (613 Lido Dr) - VIDEO
Sitting on top of a mountain overlooking the Lake Mead recreation area, Scott Baranoff gives a tour of his 4,655 square feet Frank Lloyd-Wright inspired home in Boulder City.
Real Estate Millions: Hard Luck Mine Castle
Real Estate Millions: Flip or Flop Vegas
Real Estate Millions: Myron Martin
Real Estate Millions: $15M Palms Place Penthouse
Phil Maloof’s Palms Place Penthouse, which takes up the entire 59th-floor, is for sale for $15 million. (Samia DeCubas/Real Estate Millions)
Real Estate Millions: The New American Home 2019
Real Estate Millions: The highest-priced condos sold in Las Vegas in 2018
Real Estate Millions: One Queensridge Place
Marc-Andre Fleury selling Las Vegas home for $2.5M - VIDEO
Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has put his custom Southern Highlands home on the market for $2.5 million. The single-story home, built on a .63-acre lot in 2015, measures 5,285 square feet and has a 717-square-foot casita and three-car garage. It has five bedrooms and six baths. Fleury bought the home from former NHL player and fellow Canadian Sheldon Souray, according to public records. When he signed his three-year, $25M contract extension over the summer, Fleury told the media he and his family love Las Vegas and cited its great schools and neighborhoods with a lot of things for kids to do. Fleury said he and his family love their home in Southern Highlands, but wanted to be “closer to the Summerlin area." Home photos courtesy of Ivan Sher Group
THE LATEST
Top 10 penthouses for mid-2019

High-rise sales are down in 2019 as buyers look to the home market, but a unit at the Waldorf Astoria fetched the highest price in 2½ years.

Ascaya hosts Robb Report’s Dream Machines

Ascaya, the hillside development in Henderson, turned into a closed course to demonstrate the latest luxury sports utility vehicles that will be showcased in an upcoming issue of a national luxury lifestyle magazine.

Boy Scouts camp in Mount Potosi marketed for future luxury development

Newmark Knight Frank, a commercial brokerage, is marketing some 1,150 acres of land in Mount Potosi, home to the Boy Scouts of America Las Vegas Area Council’s camp, at a listing price of $90 million, according to a press release from Newmark.

 
Vegas couple remodels retirement home into mini-mansion— VIDEO

After more than 10 years, the Raes are moving again. This time, to a home half the size in Sun City, Summerlin, that they’ve already customized, decorated and outfitted with the finest accouterments.

New Las Vegas mansions draw celebrities

Oakland Raiders President Marc Badain and two YouTube sensations are among the high-profile buyers of the 20 highest priced newly constructed luxury homes closed in 2019.

Luxury new home closings of $1 million-plus up 41 percent in 2019

The new home luxury market is surging during the first six months of 2019 despite a decline in the housing market overall, and MacDonald Highlands and Summerlin continue to dominate the marketplace with a combined 80 new home closings of $1 million or more.

Market has 63 listings of $5 million or more

The sales of existing luxury homes in Southern Nevada remains strong and shows no signs of slowing through the end of the year as the influx of Californians buying up properties continues.

 
Rhodes’ Spanish Hills home leads top resales of 2019 — VIDEO

An uber luxury Spanish Hills home lived in by its builder Jim Rhodes that set the second highest resale value in Las Vegas history at $16 million tops the list for the most expensive sale so far in 2019.