Wheaton Cold War Bunker to be Demolished

The first nuclear age civil defense control center is scheduled to be removed from Wheaton. It’s one of the last reminders of the Cold War in existence in the U.S.

The USD $500,000 bomb shelter was tucked away under a one-story highway office on the campus of the DuPage County government offices. It was built to support up to 60 civil defense workers tasked with keeping operations running after a nuclear attack.

The ribbon cutting ceremony was held almost precisely one year after the USSR launched Sputnik. The shelter eventually was used to hold the county’s public safety communications center (Du-Comm). It has been unused since 2012; county officials say that it is too expensive to maintain.

“The property has used up its useful life,” says Grant Eckhoff, DuPage Commissioner. Eckhoff says there’s “no plan to build anything on top of it at the moment.”

The entrance to the shelter can be sealed if there is an attack. The ceiling is 36 inches of concrete; the walls are an 18-inch cinder block. It contains decontamination showers, a “war room”, and a landline telephone that provided a secure connection to the White House.

The kitchen is the best-kept area of the bunker. It still has its original Formica counters and cabinets. In the Fifties, Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen said that the bunker would “point the way for the nation.” Eckhoff says that today “we have different ways of doing things.”

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE