NEWS FLASH: CELL PHONE SERVICE UPGRADE!
Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T available in roads and mallways, with service optional to suites.
Dean's Downtown Underground History
Original Magnificent Tunnel section.
Dean Realty Co. employees and railroad historians tour the site of the Magnificent Tunnel.
- Railroad historians recently concluded that Dean's Downtown Underground was originally opened in 1873 by contractors for the Kansas City, Memphis & Mobile Railway (KCM&M). Dubbed the Magnificent Tunnel, several mysteries remain about the grade, height and length of the railroad tunnel, which stopped at about the halfway point of its original planned length.
- The shaft that now accommodates Dean's Downtown Underground’s southernmost elevator to the surface is where the railroad tunnel ended, and is likely the site of 1873 newspaper accounts of a “skylight” seen from the tunnel. A lack of funds partially contributed to the abandonment of the tunnel project.
Lester Dean, Sr., founder of Dean Realty Co.
Cutting and planing machine.
- Dean's Downtown Underground was developed by Lester Dean, Sr., who originally explored the abandoned, flooded mine in a rowboat lowered down a shaft. After draining the mine, Lester, Sr., his son, Lester (then 14 years old), and blasting crews used dynamite to expand Dean's Downtown Underground to the 1.2 million square foot complex it is today! The tunnel access Lester, Sr. created for heavy equipment is the same drive-in tunnel entrance used by vehicles today.
Hard rock shaping and cutting equipment.
- The right tool for the job wasn’t always available, or yet created, so Lester Dean, Sr. designed his own! He developed a mobile hard rock cutting and planing machine used in floor surfacing and a mobile multi-position utility machine for hard rock shaping and cutting. His extensive knowledge of heavy equipment and overall creativity combined to make shorter work of some very tough tasks.
- Lester Dean, Sr. had became a millionaire by age 30 when he and brother Warren won bids for purchase of WWII war surplus on the Pacific Islands. Their endeavors included the purchase of a battleship and establishing blocks of salvage yards in several US cities. In the mid 1950’s he started Dean Machinery Co. and subsequently Dean Realty Co., and began development of Dean's Downtown Underground in 1958. Lester Dean was the first in America to visualize such a commercial real estate use for abandoned mines by converting them to retail, office, warehouse and storage uses.
The Flintstones-style party, hosted by Myrna and Lester Dean (left and right), was attended by the who’s who of Kansas City socialites.
- The grand opening of Dean's Downtown Underground took place on October 9, 1966, featuring a “Fred and Wilma Flintstone” themed party of society cavemen and women. Fur clad, carrying clubs and with bones in their hair, attendees enjoyed roasted pig and “cave-era” delights by torch light. An interesting sidebar to the party was attendees chuckling the next day about coughing and blowing black soot out of their noses! Today a sophisticated ventilation and air recycling system ensures constant fresh air throughout.
- The first tenant in Dean's Downtown Underground was Hallmark Cards in 1961. Dixie Cups was also a tenant in the early days, setting up their warehouse/distribution operation in Dean's Downtown Underground.
Roadways and columns created by blasting deeper into the mine, with water service including sprinkler protection and lighting installed (circa late 1960s.)
Dixie Cup warehouse (circa 1960s.)
Underground office (circa 1970s.)