Marquette’s Underground House

No, that’s not just a hill of flowers. That’s a house–Marquette’s first and only underground house at 1830 Altamont Street.

This home was built in the early 1980s by the local business North Country Terra Dome, headed by Charles Sanford and David Drury. It was quickly dubbed “the Underground House” by the community. It was a new style at the time and believed to be the style for the future. Built into a hill, its roof has a lawn that can be mowed, and the garage door opens out of the hillside. When it was first built, my mom, brother and I went to the open house. We were impressed by its ingenuity but not convinced we would want to live there. Most impressive was that although the house is underground, it does not lack for light. A skylight brings natural light into the kitchen and dining room and the front of the house, which is visible, along with the garage door on the side, has solar windows. Another advantage is that following the great hail storm of June 2008 that did so much damage to Marquette buildings and vehicles, the Underground House was the only one on its street that did not need its roof repaired due to golf ball size hail.

Today, the home belongs to Lorana Jinkerson, author of the children’s book Nettie Does the NTC: North Country Trail. When I asked her whether she would mind my photographing her house she told me that people do it all the time, stopping outside to take pictures of it and more than once she’s been contacted by newspapers and magazines that ran stories on her house. After thirty years, the Underground House remains something people talk about.

While the Underground House architectural style has yet to catch on in popularity, the recent emphasis on conservation, alternative fuel sources, and the move toward going green may just make the Underground House still a pioneer in a future architectural style. Who knows? In another century or so, we might all be living underground.

For more about Marquette’s Historical Homes, be sure to check out My Marquette. I’ll also be giving several presentations on Marquette history, beginning on April 14th, so be sure to check out the list of events at:


Tyler R. Tichelaar is a seventh generation resident of Marquette and the author of several historical fiction novels, including The Marquette Trilogy, as well as the history book My Marquette: Explore the Queen City of the North. Learn more about him and his books at

Explore posts in the same categories: Marquette History, Marquette's Historical Homes

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