FEMA Federal Regional Center Marks 50 Years of History

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DENTON, Texas –Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14 marks the 50th anniversary of what began as an underground facility designed to survive a nuclear war and provide for the continuity of U.S. government operations. The Federal Regional Center (FRC) was constructed between 1961 and late 1963 on 20 acres in Denton.

The FRC has been operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency since the agency came into being in 1979. Before that, it was operated by the Office of Civil Defense and Emergency Planning, one of FEMA’s predecessor agencies.

Plans were made in the late 1950s to ensure the survival of the U.S. government in the event of a nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union. Part of those plans called for construction of fallout shelters for federal officials around the country.

The first of five such centers was constructed in Denton, Texas. The FRC was designed to be self-sufficient for 30 days, and was equipped with a water well, kitchen, food for 300-500 people for 30 days, a dining room, decontamination room, infirmary, diesel generators and a 30 day supply of diesel for the generators

Besides staff with the Civil Defense and Emergency Planning Office, representatives from other government agencies in the Dallas-Fort Worth area worked in the facility in the early days. These agencies included the Federal Communications Commission, the Commerce Department, Department of the Interior and the Treasury Department.

A group of visionary Denton business and community leaders, including Bill Utter, Roy Appleton and Riley Cross, organized a drive to buy the land for the facility and donated it to the federal government. They foresaw the economic benefits of having the center in Denton.

Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson supported the project in the early days, and continued to support it when he became vice president. President John F. Kennedy made the final decision to build the facility in Denton.


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