Wells Underground House

When I was younger, my uncle told me a story – by a local lake, there was a house built underground. I didn’t believe him until a few years ago when I looked it up. There is, in fact, an underground house by the lake!

The home — probably the most architecturally-significant building in the area where I live (NJ isn’t really a hotbed for unique architecture) — is called Wells Underground House, designed by Malcolm Wells, an architect who was well known for his earthen dwellings. Wells though that underground building was the wave of the future — it was gentler and shielded building materials from the environment. He was a fascinating man with some novel ideals. He designed a few local buildings, including our public library, which was recently torn down and rebuilt into a hideous monstrosity. The Underground House served as Wells’ office, built on a lovely lake on a quiet road.

Unfortunately, that road became a highway. I guess this pissed him off because he erected a concrete wall to shield his office from the noise and had painted on the wall a quote by Omar Bradley (former General): “If we are not careful we shall leave our children a legacy of billion dollar roads leading nowhere except to other congested places like those they left behind.” This wall is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.

I spotted photos of the Wells house taken by local architect Gregory La Vardera on Flickr and he agreed to let me post his photos of the home. No need to disturb its current owners.

You can read more about Malcolm Wells here.

Photos by Gregory La Vardera.

Jaime Derringer, Founder + Executive Editor of Design Milk, is a Jersey girl living in SoCal. She dreams about funky, artistic jewelry + having enough free time to enjoy some of her favorite things—running, reading, making music, and drawing.