Sure anyone can build a home out of concrete to keep the zombies at bay. What really throws you into Omega Man territory are the little personal touches that give the homeowner the advantage and gives the bad guys a Very Bad Day. One such fellow was Harry Bennett.
Bennett was a longtime high-level employee at Ford in Michigan. He had absolutely no background in engineering, automobiles, business, or finance. What he did have experience in, however, was boxing, guns, slavish devotion to Ford, and moral flexibility. Hired on a handshake from Ford himself, Bennett put together the Ford Service Division….a division of Ford that did absolutely nothing to fix cars but did everything to fix union problems. Mr. Bennett, for all intents and purposes, was Ford’s top union-busting goon. Given the green light to build what was essentially a private army, Bennett employed “football players, boxers, wrestlers and even Detroit river gang members as Service Department employees”.
Harry Bennett conducting a business meeting with union representatives in his usual style.
With a history of fights, brawls, and machine gun exchanges with union organizers, Mr. Bennett, as you might well imagine, made some enemies. To keep himself whole and intact, Bennett built himself a ‘castle’ in Ypsilanti, MI. He also built a weekend cabin, also out of concrete, with features similar to what he did at his castle.
Here’s a video tour of the castle as it stands today:
Gun ports? Yes. Trick staircases? Absolutely. Hidden tunnels? Naturally? Tunnels patrolled by fearsome jungle cats? Of course! Bennett spared no effort, or aggregate, to build structures he thought would keep him safe. (Yet, he still managed to get shot in his own living room.)
Bennett’s buildings had quite a few features that we would find highly desirable for our own needs. I am most impressed by the stairs with steps of differing heights. This plays on an observed oddity:
Bennett would, as the story goes, practice running up and down the uneven stairs so he’d have an advantage over pursuers who would, presumably, go tumbling down the stairs as they encountered the uneven steps. It’s little details like that that separate the good from the great.
If you read all the links above, you’ll see Bennett had the usual assortment of hidden stairwells, secret gun compartments, false bookshelves, and other gimmicks we come to expect. He’s also the only person I’ve read about, in somewhat modern times, who actually incorporated a moat into his bunker plans. (Being ready to dynamite the bridge over the moat on a moments notice? Thats a baller touch.)
So there you have it, a brawling union-buster from the Prohibition-era could show us a trick or two when it comes to building our fortified homes. Note that it’s dang near 80-some-odd years later and those concrete homes are still standing and still in good enough repair to be occupied. Here to stay, built to last.
(“Harder Homes and Gardens” is a neologism that is attributable to ,Rawles in one of his books. I’m clever, but not that clever.)
I was trolling through Craigslist and found this interesting tidbit. It’s one of those forehead-slapping moments where you think “Why didn’t that ever occur to me?”. Here’s a link to a manufacturer: https://www.tiltcabins.com/design
Floorspace is necessarily small, but I love the vertical element. It has a sort of fire-watch-tower look to it. I couldnt see living in one full time, or for any long length of time really, but it would make a nice weekend cabin for fishing and hunting. I suppose the floorspace is limited by how big a load you figure you can get on the road. Since you’re hauling the thing in a horizontal position, the width of your widest wall will be determined by what you can get away with in terms of a ‘wide load’ on the road. Hmmm.
I do find ‘tiny houses’ interesting from a technical and logistics standpoint, but I could never live in one full time. The only way i could do that is to have it sitting on top of the access stairs to my cavernous underground bunker.
Nonetheless, I really do admire the ‘out of the box’ thinking. I doubt ccargo containers are designed to be stood up vertically, but that was the first thing I thought about when I saw these.
My first thought is that if the L.A. ‘Superrich’ are really concerned about surviving the apocalypse, they’d get more bang for their buck by buying a helicopter and having it on standby to leave LA.
I still love the idea of a nice, hardened, ‘second home’ somewhere. But the more I think about it, the more I start to think that if that second home is so nice and desirable, why not just make that your primary home?
Of course, real-world factors come into play…your job may be in San Francisco and your ‘second home’ in, say, Kingman AZ. You aren’t going to live in Kingman and have a job that pays what you were getting in SF. (The exception to this are those lucky sould who can telecommute and have the freedom to live anywhere.)
If I had the money, I wouldn’t bother with a super-secret underground bunker….I’d just buy the land outright and build my subtle-but-secure dream house. I mean, if you’re making $20m per movie, why wouldn’t you just do a couple movies, call it a day, and go retire to your nice, quiet estate in the mountains?
Two articles on ‘elite’ shelters on the same day. Makes me think their marketing people must have sent out press releases or something. I maintain that the Vivos thing is like buying a timeshare on Mars – it’s yours..on paper.
A 13’x9’room ain’t a whole lotta space. Matter of fact, its about the size of your typical bedroom.
I’ve seen articles from time to time about tiny little observation bunkers coming up for sale in the UK. Usually they’re rather tiny affairs that don’t amount to much more than this one.
The more I read about military bunkers and shelters, and see what is being done by other countries, I’m becoming less a fan of the underground ones and more a fan of the partially-buried, and the above-ground varieties…especially as done by our friends the Swiss.
Bunkers of this sort don’t come up in the US very often, although I did read about some organization that did a land swap with the feds and wound up owning some awesome NSA-grade bunker facility out in the woods. The closest thing you might find to these Swiss style above-ground concrete bunkers are the old AT&T relay bunkers that dot the countryside. But, thats another post altogether…………
I would imagine the problem with buying any ‘survival bunker’ that you find on the internet is that, by virtue of being on the internet, everyone knows about it.
While the feasibility of converting such a structure into something more practical and useful may be questionable, these sorts of structures are fascinating to me. I have a book here, Fortress Europe: European Fortifications Of World War II, which is basically a guidebook to some of the more elaborate and complex bunkers scattered across Europe’s battlefields. There’s a lot of concrete under those green hills.
I don’t think I’d necessarily want to live in something like that, but I do see more and more concrete houses that are very attractive, cozy, and still offer the degree of invulnerability that makes them attractive to me.
The fact that many of these flaktowers, bunkers, submarine pens, and whatnot are still in, essentially, undamaged condition after almost 80 years is pretty good testimony to what poured concrete, rebar, and an immense budget can accomplish.
Its my understanding that these things are, in the unfinished stages, a mass of stagnant water, toxic byproducts, and endless hours of repair and restoration….but there is still something just really, really cool about them. How cool would it be to have your quaint and cozy ‘tiny house’ of 200 square feet and trapdoor in the floor leading to your zillion square foot basement?
But, yeah, unless its already been done for you, turning it into habitable space is gonna be an adventure.
I’ve seen pictures of this place before, but this is the first article I’ve seen with this much detail. But I admire the kitschy over-the-top attempts to make an underground concrete room look like a green backyard. Then again, isn’t Vegas home of fake Eiffel Towers, Stutes of Liberty, and enormous fake boobs?