Artesia, New Mexico

Imagine going to an elementary school where you play basketball on its concrete roof.  Then, as you go to class, you walk past your school’s morgue.  That’s right–your elementary school has its own morgue.

According to EB, “Artesia’s Abo Elementary School is the first underground school in the United States; it was designed to protect against atomic radiation and fallout.”

Wikipedia (

Abo Elementary School was built partly in order to further the development of American fallout shelter design and to further knowledge about the long-term effects of life underground in a shelter environment.  Because the school was windowless, Architect Frank Standhardt thought that students would be less distracted.  Teachers often described Abo’s students as less likely to cause trouble, more attentive, and less likely to require discipline.  On the other hand, many of those same students described heightened awareness of the possibility of nuclear war, and some were terrified that they could be orphaned in the event of war.

Federal studies concluded that the students suffered no long-term effects from their time in Abo, and many students who suffered from chronic allergies or asthma were transferred to Abo as its advanced air filtration systems reduced the impact of dust storms and allergens. Indeed, these studies concluded that many students’ health improved as a result of extended time in the school.

Due to the expense of maintaining the school (and its asbestos), Abo was converted into a storage shed in 1995.  It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999.


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