Boise’s Famous ‘Bomb Shelter’ Was The Very First of Its Kind
In 2020, a very strange-looking multi-million dollar appeared on Zillow. It looked very, very different from other homes in the same price range.
That's because the 14,000 square foot, four-bedroom, three-bathroom "home" was anything but an actual single-family home. Located at 600 W Curling Drive, the property turned out to be the "The Boise Bomb Shelter" that was constructed during the Cold War.
A Controversial History
According to an article from The Idaho Daily Statesman dated July 1960, Idaho was selected to become home to the first prototype community civil defense shelter in the United States by the Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization.
The Idaho Architecture Project explains that the project, designed to save 1,000 people in the event of an attack, was controversial as it was only available to those living in the wealthy Boise Highlands neighborhood on the edge of the foothills. Inez Robb's article in the Lewiston Evening Journal revealed the membership fee for families in the neighborhood ran $100 and over 175 families were part of the initial wave of folks to take advantage of having access to the shelter in case of nuclear fallout following atomic war. The plan was to bar outsiders from accessing the property by force.
Once construction was completed, the shelter included a 60x80 ft. room that included a kitchen with electric stoves, dishwashers, steam tables, and a big assortment of tableware. It was equipped with generators in the event of an atomic bomb cutting Boise's regular electrical system. These generators would also be essential to producing more water, if needed, than the shelter's own water supply could produce. The first floor was also home to a loudspeaker system that could play records throughout the building.
On the lower floor, you could find another large room for sleeping/living and smaller rooms that could be modified to create a hospital with its own O.R. and pharmacy. Communication rooms equipped with phones, storage rooms, more bathrooms, decontamination showers, and a manual laundry room were on the bottom floor as well.
Fallout Shelter Becomes Property of the Boise School District
Obviously, bombs never fell on Boise and by 1972, it became the property of the Boise Independent School District. The school district removed many of the features meant to preserve life in the wake of the nuclear holocaust. They used it primarily for storage and archives. With new offices completed, the school district no longer needed the fallout shelter by the early 2000s.
Public records show that Jon Farren became the primary owner by 2003. In January 2020 interview with Channel 2, Farren explains that he bought the property to use as an office space. He eventually decided to offer the unused areas as studio space for musicians looking for a place to rehearse without disturbing others.
Bomb Shelter Listed for Sale
Farren put it up for sale for $2.1 million in 2019 and records with the Secretary of State's office show that "Boise Bomb Shelter LLC" was legally dissolved on November 12, 2021. Records now show that its primary owner is a different LLC with a different registered agent. We're not sure how the exchange happened or what the final selling price was.
In that 2020 interview with Channel 2, Farren expressed hopes that the new buyer would continue offering it as a rehearsal space and it seems like whoever's in charge now has. The lead singer of Boise's "A Residual Affinity" solicited for a new drummer on Facebook on February 6. The post mentions the band has a studio at the bomb shelter.
According to our friend Don at Boise Dev, Pivot North considered a project to build a six-unit condo building with a rooftop pool and hot tub on top of the bomb shelter. There haven't been any additional permits for the project filed since June 2021, so it's unclear if it'll ever happen.
Fascinated by the fact that this thing exists in Boise of all places? Then satisfy your curiosity by looking through some of the real estate photos from when it was for sale! You can also check out some historical photos of its construction and big reveal HERE.