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Beer Can House

Field review by the editors.

Houston, Texas

In 1968, John Milkovisch was just another retired employee of Southern Pacific railroad. He lived in an undistinguished house in an undistinguished suburban neighborhood of Houston. Then John got antsy. The former upholsterer began decorating his patio with pieces of brass, marbles, rocks and buttons. Then he tore up the lawn and replaced it with similar glittery debris. The house itself was next. Tired of painting it, John took beer cans and flattened them into aluminum siding.

Beer can architecture.

Beer cans quickly became John's exclusive medium -- a convenient one, since John drank a lot of beer. He worked on the house for the next 18 years, incorporating a six-pack a day into its adornment -- roughly 39,000 cans. He linked pull-tabs into long streamers to make curtains that chimed when the wind blew. "This curtain idea is just one of those dreams in the back of my noodle," he explained at the time.

"John thought beer cured everything," explained Mary, his wife, after John had died in 1988. Mary was still there, welcoming visitors, until her death in 2002. In November 2001, when Mary could no longer live without assistance, the Orange Show Foundation and its army of folk art preservationists purchased the property. By March 2008 the house and yard were open again to the public, helped by a $125,000 Houston Endowment grant to repair and restore the Milkovisch's beer can home. A quote by John is painted on an inside wall: "They say every man should leave something to be remembered by. At least I accomplished that goal."

The cans are also a record of John's imbibing preferences -- Coors cylinders are sculpted into whirligigs, while long rows of Texas Pride and various Lite beers make up the walls. Pull tabs tinkle lightly in the breeze, but the only belches you'll hear are your own.

Beer Can House

222 Malone St., Houston, TX
From I-45, just south of the intersection of I-10, take the Memorial Drive exit. Head west about a mile. Soon after you pass the North Shepherd Drive exit you will make a right on Malone St. The Beer Can House is two blocks north, on the right.
Daylight hours. Tours Sa-Su 12-5. (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Adults $2.
RA Rates:
Major Fun
Save to My Sights

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In the region:
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