During the Cold War era, America was constantly reminded of the effects of nuclear fallout. Television, radio, newspapers, and even our schools conveyed the frightful details. As a result, the masses sought protection by building shelters able to withstand the radiation and often stocked them with supplies like food and water.
The December 1961 Popular Science article is a perfect example. The first sentence of the article describes the atmosphere of paranoia perfectly: “People who built fallout shelters for their families used to keep it secret for fear they’d be considered crazy.” It also became so accepted to build a shelter that the article describes it as admirably prudent.
During construction of a large addition to a 1955 era home, the owners decided that they wanted to update an existing basement bathroom.
We were a little surprised to find a do-it-yourself fallout shelter made of hand stacked bricks. The original owner of the home was completely unaware that her husband (who had passed 10 years earlier) had built this. This was not a shelter planned before construction of the home, this was remodeled in place, meaning that several hundred red bricks had been inserted into the overhead floor joists and walls one by one. Where there was plumbing or duct work, each brick was meticulously notched to accommodate the pipe or duct run.
It makes you wonder if he read page 59 from that same Popular Science magazine.
Click on any of the following images to see larger versions in a gallery.