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Woodside A-frame home with bomb shelter asks $3.45M

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Two holdovers from the 20th century demand a distinctly 21st century price

An aerial photo of an A-frame home in Woodside. Photos courtesy of Loren Dakin, Parc Agency Corporation

Built in 1962, the A-frame abode at 87 Upenuf Road in Woodside, a quiet Silicon Valley town located next to Palo Alto and Redwood City, currently listed for $3.45 million, hides a secret beneath its dramatically angled eaves.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the home sits on top of a bomb shelter, complete with 18-inch-thick concrete walls.

Both the A-frame design and the fallout shelter are characteristic of mid-20th century America. Although noted Austrian-American architect R.F. Schindler began building A-frame houses in the 1930s, San Francisco designer John Carden Campbell is credited with popularizing the style in the 1950s.

The triangular A-frame design shelters the sides of the house beneath the roof and creates a pointedly solid frame that helps snow and tree debris slide off the home’s steep silhouette.

“Its simple construction was ideal for a vacation homes because it made the most of its enclosed space for the least amount of money,” architecture firm Sopher Sparn notes of the style, which grew in popularity up until the ’70s.

At-home bomb shelters became a paranoid trend in America after President John F. Kennedy endorsed them in a dramatic 1961 speech, declaring, “In the coming months, I hope to let every citizen know what steps he can take without delay to protect his family in case of attack.”

Although the thick concrete walls were meant to stand up to nuclear explosions (at least a distance) and the windowless design aimed at barring exposure to radiation, according to Popular Mechanics, ‘60s-era shelters like this one are outdated and wouldn’t stand up to the force of more advanced bombs, rendering retro shelters impractical but weirdly fascinating artifacts of latter-day America.

The last time 87 Upenuf Road sold was in 2015 for $2.86 million.

The property previously listed for its current asking price in April. That ad described the property as “three homes on one lot,” featuring a three-beds, two-bath main house measuring 2,670 square feet, on top of an 1,100-square-foot, one-bed, one-bath guest house, and a 591-square-foot, one-bed, one-bath cottage. All of these structures are clustered together on the same same lot with views of redwood groves and the bay.

In 2017, this same house listed to rent for $5,100 per month. Neither the current listing nor any of the past ones include reference the shelter, even though it might be 87 Upenuf’s most unique and singular addition.