Eagle Lake remained nameless for most of its history, but locals referred to the estate surrounding it as “The Bunker”. In the late 70’s a forceful and ambitious man tunneled out a hillside overlooking this 6-acre lake and built himself an underground fortress. Thousands of tons of concrete were brought in to form not only the exterior walls of this two-story 12,000 square foot structure, but every internal wall as well. The south face of the building overlooking the lake remained exposed and covered with glass. Steel louvres that were never completed would have protect the windows from intruders when activated. Wall thicknesses range from one to two feet and support 4 feet of overburden above its roof. A thick layer of foam insulates the exterior of the concrete walls from surrounding fill which maintain a steady temperature of between 65 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit year around. The result is a comfortable moisture free climate that requires only a small amount of heating and air conditioning. Little is known about the true reasons for such a massive structure other than to protect the builders burgeoning security company from threats we’ll never understand. Rumor has it his clients included Pam American Airlines and The New York Tribune.
The estate included 25 acres of land, a 6-acre lake, the underground bunker with skyward facing motion detectors, a walled in concrete courtyard with escape tunnel, school busses with barred windows and steel shields, a hilltop radio tower, a 1970’s era IBM main frame computer, a green house, dog kennels, passive solar heat, thousands of security uniforms and a shooting range. Adjoining the bunker is a 3-story contemporary house that was to become a guard residence after the larger estate home was completed on the hill across the lake. Sadly, the owner suffered a heart attack and died before the bunker was completed and the estate home was never built. The property and its contents became all but abandoned for a decade or more. The bunker was nothing more than a concrete shell devoid of everything but a small electric panel and useless communication wiring. Unattended the lake began to silt in and the grounds attracted vagrants that left behind piles of junk and debris. The estate had in every way become a blight on the quiescent township of Chesterfield NJ and few saw the possibilities that lay beneath its incomplete façade.
A Diamond in the Rough
A for-sale-by-owner sign eventually attracted the attention of a bright-eyed dreamer who glimpsed at the estates untapped possibilities and raced home to share a vision with his wife. With little to no money at their disposal and no means to secure a bank loan, they entered an agreement with the seller and the estate with all its unfinished work became theirs. This was to become their home, their sanctuary, and a place to operate their yet to be profitable environmental remediation and supply company.
Fast forward 18 years, the bright-eyed dreamer successfully reared and then sold his business, cultivated his passion for landscaping and returned to the vision he had that very first day in 1999. This was no usual property, it is in fact a rare gem where love of nature and love of beauty become one. The lake was cleaned up, a white sand beach with dock and Tiki-hut replaced the piles of debris, an acre of paver covered driveways and paths replace the muddy ruts to the bunker, and many more acres of perennial gardens envelop the grounds. In all its unearthed beauty it is now will remain a slice of heaven in the heart of NJ.
The Name – Eagle Lake
Most mornings in May and many times throughout the year a Bald Eagle or two will visit the lake. Their strength and beauty along with their grace and vision are the ideal symbol of this transformed lakeside estate. The appearance of such a magnificent creature is always exciting. Visitors can’t help but stop, gaze and celebrate the moment.