Bomb Shelters Still Exist in Pacific Palisades

Mrs. Peggy Sinskey of Pacific Palisades is going into her family nuclear bomb shelter. The photo was taken in August 1961. Photo courtesy of Herald-Examiner Collection, Los Angeles Public Library.

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy urged Americans to build shelters to protect their families from bombs and radiation.

In 2004, the Palisadian-Post ran a brief story penned by Bonnie Graveline Worley, a member of the Class of ’64 at Palisades High. She wrote:

“During sixth grade many of us remember reading in the ‘Weekly Reader’ (a newspaper our schools received each week), that the Russians had launched Sputnik — ‘the first satellite ever’! We were all very afraid of the Russians and people were building bomb shelters.

“These shelters cost a few thousand dollars and were dug into the ground and packed with food and supplies so, if necessary, you could survive for months. The top of the bomb shelters looked like manhole covers.

“There was a bomb shelter around the corner from my house on Chapala; I wonder if it’s still there after 45 years?” Worley asked in her story to the Post.

About 15 years ago, former Post editor Bill Bruns thought it would be interesting to report on any remaining bomb shelters in Pacific Palisades. We put a notice in the paper and this editor was assigned to track them down.

One was located on Via de la Paz, but the homeowner didn’t allow me to see it. There was a spectacular one in the Riviera — almost like a “root” cellar in the yard, but with places to sleep.

Alas, we didn’t learn of any other shelters, and the story never materialized.

This bomb shelter was turned into a wine cellar.

Now a Palisades property located at 14180 Rustic Lane, built in the 1950s, is on the market for $37.5 million. The house was featured in the Wall Street Journal with a headline “This Home Once Had a Bomb Shelter. Now It’s a Wine Cave.”

The story noted that the Cold War-era bomb shelter had undergone clever repurposing – it is a controlled wine cave, built into a rock formation, that can hold 1,000 bottles.

The home, dubbed Valley Farm, has seven bedrooms and 10,000 square feet of living space spread across four structures located on a 1.12-acre gated compound.

There’s a main residence, a two-story pool house and a guest house that doubles as a gym, along with a bocce court, a batting cage and a canopy of olive and oak trees.

A year ago, Rita DeLeone purchased the residence for $25.5 million and made significant upgrades to the house.

The 1952 house had been largely demolished in 2012, but a rebuild of the main house was done in the farmhouse style.

DeLeone told the WSJ she was selling it because it was too large. “It’s a bit much for me,” she said.


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3 Responses to Bomb Shelters Still Exist in Pacific Palisades

  1. I can’t make out which is the “farmstyle” remodel…

  2. Aileen Haugh says:

    I know of one that was removed about 2004 across from us on Chautauqua Blvd. Leo King, a WW2 veteran and engineer, built his cinder block “sturdy” home for himself and his wife Mary, in the 1940’s. It included a beauty salon at the back where Mary “did hair” for many residents, and a rebar enforced bomb shelter. When the house went up for sale after Leo passed, in his 90’s, it was much discussed in the ‘hood. Posed a significant issue to get that out of the ground!

  3. Libby Motika says:

    The house my family moved in Mandeville in 1965 accommodated a bomb shelter. It was a concrete seller with hook-ups for appliances. My dad used it as a wine seller. But mostly it was for storing stuff. It was accessed from a door and stairs that let out into the dining room. There was an outside hatch (like a where people in the Midwest shelter from tornados.

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