It was built as an Atlas E missile structure in the early 1950s, in response to the threat of nuclear war with the Soviet Union. These short-lived bases were operated by the Air Force in the early 1960s, and the structure, one of nine others around Topeka, was decommissioned in 1965 in favor of newer technology and more robust facilities.
As structures go, though, this silo is still pretty darn solid. Built to withstand bomb blasts, it is made up of epoxy-resin concrete and heavy rebar.
After use by the military, the listing in question was turned over to a salvage company that further stripped the property. That left the site, which had cost the government $3.3 million to build, in sorry shape.
The current owners purchased the property in the early 1980s.
“It had been vacant for some time,” says the listing agent, Trent Siegle with Midwest Land Group.
Some areas were filled with as much as 8 feet of water, but the bunker’s eventual owner did his due diligence before purchasing. He explored the underground space with a canoe and flashlight, even diving in, before deciding to take on the massive subterranean project.
After the purchase, the first priority was to dry out the space. It took a high-powered water pump 22 hours to drain over one million gallons of liquid from beneath the Earth’s surface. It then took 80 wheelbarrow trips to clear the space of “mud and gunk,” Siegle notes.
Once the area was cleaned out, the owners got to work to build their underground lair. What they have called Subterra Castle includes an underground living quarters, workshop, and event space that they have called home for more than three decades.
The property is entered via a half-mile driveway, and the complex is protected by secure, 8-foot fencing.
The below-ground offering includes six bedrooms, three bathrooms, and around 6,500 square feet. The space is a boon, but a buyer will have to become accustomed to the lack of natural light.
However, there’s plenty of sunshine in the above ground one-bedroom residence. Before the pandemic, the above-ground unit was busy as a popular Airbnb.
A new owner could continue the vacation rental business, or even turn the entire place into a “unique tourist destination,” as the listing suggests.
Above ground, the property features two lookout towers designed like castle turrets, a Quonset building, a 450-foot caretaker cabin, and even a Stonehenge-like ceremonial stone circle with a fire pit, used for outdoor events.
The grounds also include a grass air strip, a pond, orchards, and garden spaces, as well as a passive solar greenhouse with a hot tub.
A spiral staircase descends to the underground living area, which has a stage, great room, two kitchens, a dining area, four bedrooms and two bathrooms.
A wood-burning stove warms the space. There has been little need to add air conditioning, given the 18-inch-thick walls and ceilings and 36-inch floors.
The 47-ton blast door leads to the site that housed the missile, which is now used as a workshop. An underground tunnel connects the workshop to the living quarters.
The owners have preserved the control room, signage, and other artifacts from the structure’s former life as a military outpost. A hallway showcases news clippings from years past about the offbeat domicile.
The sellers are at an age where they are ready to downsize and simplify, and it’s now time for a new chapter, with new owners.
The property, set in pasture 30 miles outside of Topeka, offers the ultimate escape from a hectic world.
Once you head down the stairs and underground into the former silo, “There’s no cell service. There’s no windows,” Siegle says. “You’re in your own little world.”