Kaleva, Michigan: Bottle House

It was built using over 60,000 pop bottles as bricks by John J. Makinen, Sr and finished in 1941.

Kaleva Bottle House Museum

14551 Wuoksi Ave., Kaleva, MI
Kaleva Bottle House Museum. Downtown, on Wuoksi Ave. between Osmo and Kauko Sts. Big sign on front lawn.
Summer Sa-Su 12-4, Sep-Oct Sa 12-4. (Call to verify)
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Bottle house.

Bottle House

Bottle House...oh great, another bottle-filled museum, right? Well...not exactly! This house has bottles as one of its main building components! John J. Makinen, Sr. built this house out of over 60,000 pop bottles, most of which came from his business, the Northwestern Bottling Works. The bottles were laid on their sides with the bottom ends to the exterior. A native of Finland, Makinen moved to the area in 1903. He completed the house in 1941, but died before his family moved into it. In 1980 the building was purchased by the Kaleva Historical Society, which renovated it to house the Kaleva Historical Museum.

When we visited this museum for the first time, we were given a tour of the place by the head of the Historical Society, who is extremely skilled at giving interesting tours with local flavor. For example, he postulated that the term "pop", for carbonated beverages, originated at that very Bottling Works, from the onomatopoeia of the "POP" sound the early carbonated beverages would make when their corks would fly off (Early bottling technique was to seal the beverage in its bottle with a cork, which could not always withstand the pressure of the carbonation.).

He also informed us that, even though adults were interested in the history of the house, all the children coming through at that time wanted to see...the bathroom! Evidently the bathtub had been featured in a Nickelodeon show with a sock puppet, and all the kids wanted to see "their" character's bathtub.

The house can be seen year-round, but is only open for Historical tours.

[April Hughes, 02/04/2007]

July 2011: Photo added.

Bottle House

Kaleva, Michigan, boasts the Bottle House, a home composed of more than 60,000 soft drink bottles. It was built by the owner of the Northwestern Bottling Works, a local business; the bottles are laid on their sides, with the bottoms forming the outside walls. I saw it about five years ago, and it's definitely worth a look.

[B.D. Smith, 03/09/1998]

Built in 1941 by John J. Makinen, it also features an exhibit on office machines and the history of lumbering. Northbound on U.S. 31 to Nine Mile Rd., within town limits, at 14551 Wuoksi Ave.

Nearby Offbeat Places

Big Grasshopper SculptureBig Grasshopper Sculpture, Kaleva, MI - < 1 mi.
Gravity Hill - Church MagnetGravity Hill - Church Magnet, Malcolm, MI - 13 mi.
Cherry Bowl Drive-In TheaterCherry Bowl Drive-In Theater, Honor, MI - 20 mi.
In the region:
Mental Hospital Tour: Buildings and Tunnels, Traverse City, MI - 32 mi.

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