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Kaleva Bottle House

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John J. Makinen House
1939–1942, John H. Makinen. 14551 Wuoksi Ave.
  • (Photograph by Balthazar Korab)
  • (Photograph by Balthazar Korab)

Sixty thousand glass bottles sparkle in the exterior walls of the Makinen bottle house. John J. Makinen (1871–1942) designed and built the house to utilize surplus and obsolete bottles from his Northwestern Bottling Works. He used a technique that he developed in 1932 in which he coursed bottles with mortar, and then laid them on their sides with bases pointing out and held in place by the studding. Makinen thought the sealed air space in the bottles would be a natural insulator. Arranged from bottle bottoms across the front of the house are the words “Happy Home.” The Makinen house exemplifies an early-twentieth-century architectural fad for using unusual, eye-catching, often scavenged, materials, such as bottles, petrified wood, corn cobs, and coal for building purposes. The heyday for these exhibitionist constructions came in the 1920s and 1930s, when rapidly increasing auto travel and tourism and the growing use of cameras by the general public encouraged both the construction of highly visible tourist-attracting landmarks and the widespread dissemination of information about them. Today the Kaleva Historical Society operates the house as a museum.

Writing Credits

Kathryn Bishop Eckert



  • 1939



Kathryn Bishop Eckert, "Kaleva Bottle House", [Kaleva, Michigan], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Michigan

Buildings of Michigan, Kathryn Bishop Eckert. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012, 394-394.

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