The Renovation of the Detachment Hotel – Palm Beach

Lorea Thomson
Posted by Lorea Thomson
Updated on
Published in Arts & Culture

The Kennedy Bunker, also known as the Detachment Hotel, is the name given to the bunker complex on Peanut Island. The bunker, which is located on the tiny island just south of Palm Beach, refers to the small 1,500-square-foot complex originally designed for use by John F. Kennedy, the President of the United States, in the event of a nuclear war.

The decision to construct a presidential bunker in South Florida was driven by the location of a Kennedy family home in Palm Beach. In the event of a nuclear attack, then-President John Kennedy could be evacuated to the bunker site from Palm Beach via helicopter in less than five minutes.

The structure was constructed in 1960 and was closed less than three years later. The corrugated body of the shelter was then buried under twenty-five feet of soil, lead, and concrete. Fortunately, the bombs never came. After JFK’s death, the bunker was all but forgotten and fell into disrepair, taking on water and natural detritus.

The existence of the presidential bunker was classified. Its mere existence was declassified in 1974. From 1998 to 2017, it was open to the public as a historic site. The bunker site fell into continued disrepair it posed a threat to the safety of the public visiting the site.

Palm Beach County Commissioners recently approved a 30-year lease with the Port of Palm Beach for $10 a year, following a "long and trying period" of a year to hammer out the lease's details, said Eric Call, the county's parks director. Port commissioners unanimously agreed to the lease in December.

Palm Beach County will oversee managing, maintaining, and renovating the Kennedy bunker. The county will also maintain and manage the former Coast Guard station built in 1936 and its boathouse for recreational and educational purposes on six acres of Peanut Island.



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