Cold War bomb shelters frozen in time below Central Florida

- Under the parking lot at Brian Nelson’s Apopka Insurance agency is a buried relic from the past that tends to draw attention every time there’s major international turmoil in the headlines.

Now as the war of words rages between President Trump and North Korea, the attention has again returned to what hides under the concrete.

You wouldn’t know it’s there from the outside; a small metal door in the brick sign at the roadside is the only real giveaway. It’s not until you enter the driver’s ed classroom at the back of his office and see the vague outline of a door in the wood paneled walls that the secret becomes clearer.

Nelson pulled open the heavy hidden door, lined with a layer of metal and thick wood planks, and began down the steep stairway that seems to lead into the past.

At the bottom of the stairs, Nelson is standing in a Cold War era bomb shelter that seems barely touched since the 1960’s. A large room made of 18 inch thick concrete is filled with 9 submarine cots, a small kitchen area and even a bathroom down a narrow hallway.

Nearly all of the amenities in the shelter can be operated by hand crank just in case power is knocked out, and Nelson said when he bought the building it even had a stationary bike in the center of the shelter that could be used to power the lights inside.

The room also has a filtering system that can send the incoming air through a layer of charcoal to help keep out potential contamination.

If you can’t tell, this place was built during the tension of the Cuba Missile Crisis when concern about a nuclear war had hit all new highs.

Nelson said the home, and the shelter were owned by the Grossenbacher family, the head of which was Central Florida’s Civil Defense Coordinator. Nelson believes the shelter was likely built to what were, at the time, the most modern and state-of-the-art standards.

The last time he really gave the relic much thought was during a hurricane threat;  Nelson then used the shelter to protect some of his client’s important documents. Now though, with some of those recent world developments he admits his thoughts have wandered to the relic below.

Shelters like Nelson’s due still exist under some homes and businesses throughout Central Florida.
Nelson hopes his remains a relic of the past. He said he’d much rather show it off as a novelty.

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