They always say that you should “try before you buy.” But when it comes to purchasing a house, that’s not really an option—and plenty of new homeowners are greeted with unwelcome surprises as a result!
Sometimes, though, those little surprises can turn out to be something awesome. At least that’s what happened to one homeowner as he was examining the blueprints of his new house. He had no idea that the discovery he was about to make on his own property would end up being a huge boon that he never saw coming…
When Jon Simms from Tucson, Arizona, was looking through the blueprints of his new home in 2015, he discovered there was something else hidden on his property… a big something.
The blueprints showed Jon that there was an extra room in his house. The only problem? It was hidden! So, he did the only thing he could think to do: he grabbed a shovel and headed to the spot marked off on his blueprints.
The house was built in the 1960s—and plans for the mysterious room were submitted right along with the ones for the home. Jon would’ve never known about the room if the plans had gotten lost, and considering how old the house was, it’s a wonder they stayed intact!
For the first few feet of his exploration, Jon dug up nothing but dirt. He wasn’t sure how deep he’d have to dig before he found something. Sure enough, not long after, his shovelhead made contact with something metal. What was there?
As Jon cleared out more and more of the dirt, he stared in awe at what had been hiding in his yard for years. After doing some research, he learned that he’d hit the entrance to that extra room on his blueprints. He knew it could only be one thing…
Jon uncovered the entrance to a fallout shelter! With the help of some friends, he pried the lid off and peered down into it. Having been abandoned for years, it looked like it was in great disrepair. As excited as he was, Jon was also nervous about what was potentially lurking below…
It took an entire team of men to lift the lid using an iron bar for leverage. Whoever built this shelter made sure it wasn’t easy to break into in case they needed to barricade themselves inside.
After the lid was finally off, Jon peered down into a dark spiral stairwell which led into another room off to one side. There were pieces of metal debris and plenty of dirt strewn all over…
He carefully made his way down the rusted spiral staircase. He had to be extremely careful with each step, as the stairs could have given out under any amount of weight. He made it to the bottom safely and stared at the entryway.
He guessed that this small metal nozzle brought fresh air into the space. If this passage was crushed, whoever was inside might have suffocated without it. How clever! The shelter was in surprisingly good condition and it seemed like a shame to let such ingenuity go to waste.
There were a few goodies left behind, too. Jon found several cans of emergency drinking water that were still full. By now, the water was unfit to consume, but it was a clear sign the person who originally built this thought they’d be spending a significant amount time inside.
Jon also found four large drums of wafers. Just like the water, the wafers were in no way edible, but they too proved someone was prepared to hide out for quite some time. Jon decided it was time to start tidying up the place.
It took quite the effort to clean up all the debris. Jon and his friends brought down large plastic bins to fill with the dirt and pieces of broken cement, and they carried them up the stairs one by one. It was grueling work, but they knew it’d be worth it.
Finally, after several hours of hard labor, the shelter was taking on a completely different look. The space was much bigger than Jon initially thought now that he could see the floor and the walls clearly!
The next order of business was removing the rusty stairs and replacing them with something much more stable. The stairs posed a real hazard if anyone tripped on them; nails and jagged edges of metal were exposed everywhere.
The rusted stairs were pried off the center support beam and Jon and his friends replaced the center beam and started installing sturdy, freshly painted stairs in a spiral fashion. This made entering and exiting the shelter much safer.
Once the stairs were complete, it was time to revamp the entrance. As of now, it was just a massive dirt pit that lead into a cement tube. The group was going to construct a much more appealing doorway!
The men constructed a circular cement lid to place over the opening. They braced the lid with planks of wood so their measurements would be exact, and they filled in any extra space with wet concrete.
Just look at the end product! Jon and his friends all did a stellar job cleaning everything out and making the shelter look like new. It was a hard day’s work, but it was well worth the group’s time.
The cleaned-up space looked amazing on the inside, too! Now, it was time for Jon to decide what exactly to do with it. Maybe he could turn it into a sweet man-cave for him and his hard-working buddies to enjoy?
Another couple, Colleen and Chris Otcasek over in Woodland Hills, California, had a similar experience to Jon’s when they moved into their new home. As the couple excitedly settled into their new space, they were alarmed to find this hiding in the yard.
The couple had first learned about the hole while touring the property with their realtor, but they didn’t think much of it until they actually purchased the house.
Intrigued, they just knew they had to explore it further! So they climbed down into the mysterious hole to see what mysteries awaited them…
Once inside, they quickly realized that it was a fallout shelter—and it was still stocked with all sorts of incredible historical items. Colleen and Chris asked their local radio station, KPCC, to visit the home and help them document what was inside. And boy, was there a lot!
The shelter was pretty roomy—it was designed to house a family of four, after all—and it contained everything from magazines and clothing to food and medicine. Basically, it held anything that a family would need in the event of a nuclear attack.
Colleen and Chris were intrigued, to say the least, and they were curious about the shelter’s previous owners. So they contacted a few other local media outlets to help them find out a little more about the shelter’s history. The search led them to a woman named Debrah Kaufman…
Debrah explained to them that it was her father, Alvin Kaufman, who had built the shelter way back in 1961. He was careful to construct it 15 feet beneath the surface, which would make it safe in the event of nuclear attack.
Alvin had been a self-taught nuclear engineer and he was very much aware of the effects a nuclear attack would have. The prospect had frightened him so much, in fact, that he once offered to build a giant shelter for the entire neighborhood!
Even though the neighbors declined, Alvin went ahead and built his own, which he filled with everything he could think of. It had a water tank, a hand-cranked air filter, several sleeping areas for his family, and enough food to last them for several weeks.
Not only that, but Alvin decided to recreate the experience of home by stocking the shelter with all sorts of assorted items you would find in an actual house. He truly thought of everything. Heck, even paper towels and plastic bags made the cut!
Alvin’s dedication and thorough planning ultimately was rendered unnecessary; a nuclear attack never came. Still, it made for quite the time capsule. Everything he left inside, including this roll of paper towels still wrapped in its plastic packaging—was perfectly preserved!
Colleen and Chris felt like they were stepping inside of a real-life time machine. And, truthfully, they were! Everywhere they looked they saw different everyday items from the 1960s. Even the Dixie Cups of yore had a delightful retro charm.
The clothes inside were hardly, perhaps never, used. This made the fallout shelter feel like a tiny version of Alvin Kaufman’s home as it would have looked back when the bunker was first constructed. Thankfully, argyle-patterned trouser socks are still in style today!
If a nuclear bomb had actually detonated nearby, Alvin wanted to make sure that his family would be as safe and protected as possible. In addition to all of the food and clothes, he made it a point to stock the underground shelter with medical supplies in case the family had an emergency and couldn’t leave the bunker.
That meant that there were pill bottles dating back to the 1960s inside the shelter! It gave Colleen and Chris an interesting glimpse into the medicine drawers of the not-so-distant past, though it was safe to say that these drugs had long since expired.
It seemed as if Alvin had thought of every last detail. If he and his family had been forced to spend a good bit of time inside the shelter, they were also going to need some entertainment, right? This magazine collection would’ve kept even the most voracious reader occupied for at least a few months.
As a self-taught nuclear engineer, Alvin naturally made sure he stocked his shelter with plenty of relevant reading material, such as these texts on nuclear weapons and performing rescues. these books were often covered in his meticulous notes.
Not only that, but Alvin made sure to have plenty of instruction manuals on-hand. This way, everyone would be able to learn the basics of surviving a nuclear attack. Thankfully, the family never needed to consult these instructions!
When reading became tedious or boring, Alvin had a backup plan: board games! Anyone who’s ever been stuck inside the house on a snowy day knows how valuable these kinds of activities are. This checkers board looks like it has seen better days, doesn’t it?
The various treasures and items unearthed by Colleen and Chris surprised them—who would’ve thought that all this history could be hidden in their own backyard? Luckily, they were excited to share their amazing discovery with the world!