Forestiere Underground Gardens

Useful Information

Location: Near Fresno. Hwy 99 turn east on Shaw Avenue.
Open: MAR Sat, Sun 11, 12, 13, 14.
APR Thu, Fri 11, 12, 13, 14, Sat, Sun 10, 11, 12, 13:30, 14:30.
MAY to SEP daily 10, 11, 12, 13:30, 14:30, 15:30.
OCT Thu, Fri 11, 12, 13, 14, Sat, Sun 10, 11, 12, 13:30, 14:30.
NOV Sat, Sun 11, 12, 13, 14.
Fee: Adults USD 12, Children (13-17) USD 8, Children (5-12) USD 7, Children (0-4) free, Students USD , Seniors (60+) USD 10.
Groups (20+): reservations required.
Classification:  Cave House
Light: natural, electric.
Dimension: 50 rooms.
Guided tours: D=60min.
Bibliography: Silvio Manno (2006): The Forestiere Underground Gardens: A Pictorial Journey, Ionian Publications; 1st edition (2006), Paperback, ISBN-10: 0974491160, ISBN-13: 978-0974491165.
Address: Forestiere Underground Gardens, 5021 W. Shaw Avenue, Fresno, CA 93722, Tel: +1-559-271-0734. E-mail: contact
Group reservations: E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
Last update:$Date: 2015/08/30 21:59:09 $


1905Baldassare Forestiere moved from New York to Fresno, California.
1946Baldassare Forestiere died.
1954opened to the public.


This cave house was built by Baldassare Forestiere, a Sicilian immigrant. He bought 28 ha land and planned to make an orchard. Unfortunately the land was not suitable for his plan and the soil went hard in the hot San Joaquin Valley sun. And the temperatures of up to 50°C in summer were too hot to live above ground.

So he used the knowledge he had as an ex-worker of the New York City subway, and started to build a house underground. During 40 years he lived in his cave house, worked on neighbouring farms and expanded his home by adding room after room. He built more than 50 rooms, every one with an opening in the ceiling for light and fresh air. Then he planted a fruit tree under many openings, where it would be watered by the rain. The others could be closed by windows during the rare rainfalls.

At last his house extended over four hectares and contained a library, a chapel, and a glass-bottomed aquarium with a viewing room underneath. The unique cave house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today it is operated as a public museum by Andre Lorraine and Ricardo Forestiere.

In 2012 the gradens are threatened by the California High Speed Rail project. The Union Pacific Rail is planning a massive retaining wall, which would partly block the entrance, and an overpass which would require a part of the grounds for the construction. The overpart would start right in front of the entrance. But the biggest threat are the vibrations from the trains which could destroy the gardens. Such problems with vibrations from trains and trucks are well known from historical buidings in Europe.

See also

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