A luxury home built inside an Arkansas cave is on the market for $2.75 million, according to listing agent Rayne Davidson of Arkansas Diamond Realty.
John Hay, co-founder of Celestial Seasonings, purchased Beckham Creek Cave and the surrounding lot for $146,000 in 1983 with the goal of creating a shelter from nuclear attack. Hay spent $2 million creating a four-bedroom, four-bathroom bunker that is almost entirely self-sufficient, Davidson said. Since Hay sold the property in 1987, it has been a nightclub, private home and vacation rental under several owners, Davidson said.
The entire cave is a mile and a half long, but only the first 5,000 square feet have been turned into living space. A back door leads to the unaltered caverns, which include tunnels and a two-story waterfall. “It’s more grand and epic than you could ever even imagine,” Davidson said. “Pictures just do not do it justice.”
The entrance to the cave consists of the kitchen with the dining and lounge areas on a slightly raised platform just opposite the front door to take advantage of the natural light. The open plan kitchen has all modern appliances, including an in-island stovetop. The refrigerator and freezer are hidden behind cabinetry facades that match the rest of the kitchen.
A rope chandelier made to look like candles is hanging from the ceiling in the dining room. The lower level has puddles from the naturally occurring water drips.
Wherever possible, builders tried to incorporate features of the cave in the design of the home. An impressive rock formation in the living room and the master bedroom on the second level is one of the cave’s naturally occurring large recesses.
Rustic reclaimed wood acts as a headboard in one of the bedrooms. Another bedroom incorporates the natural walls of the cave to act as a wall for the room. A ceiling made of wooden slats with fluorescent lighting balances the need for modern conveniences with the rustic appearance. Water drips naturally in a few places from the cave’s ceilings so the first-floor bedrooms have a clear rubberized membrane over their wood slats to keep them dry.
The home has a helipad where, according to the listing agent, numerous celebrities have arrived via helicopter to attend parties or their own secluded vacation.
A naturally occurring rock formation, called the Spanish Piano Waterfall, used to be a waterfall inside the cave, but the underground spring has been redirected to provide a water source for the property with the unneeded water flowing into the nearby lake. According to the listing agent, new owners could easily redirect the water so it flows inside the cave once more.
Dozens of scientists have explored the cave over the years, which led to the discovery of a new species of springtail — the tiny organism that contributes to the health of a cave. A specimen of springtail from Beckham Creek Cave is part of the Smithsonian collection in Washington, according to Davidson.
Electricity comes from a hydroelectric system, while the cave’s internal freshwater spring provides a water source. A reverse osmosis system makes the water safe to drink and a geothermal heating system dehumidifies the interiors, which stay at about 65 degrees year round.
A septic tank and septic field on the 257-acre lot treat the wastewater. A lake, helipad and separate barn — with apartment and horse stables — are also included in the listing.