Kaleva Bottle House in Manistee County is made of 60,000 glass bottles

There’s a historic house all bottled up in Kaleva, Michigan, a village approximately four hours northwest of metro Detroit. The one-of-a-kind house was constructed from glass bottles.

Built in 1941, the two-story structure, known as the Kaleva Bottle House, Kaleva Bottle House Museum and Kaleva Historical Museum, is a tourist attraction in Manistee County. Glass Wine Stopper

Kaleva Bottle House in Manistee County is made of 60,000 glass bottles

John J. Makinen Sr., a Finnish immigrant and owner of Northwestern Bottling Works Co., used his expertise to craft the walls of his unique home, according to Cynthia Asiala, president of the Kaleva Historical Society.

The house's exterior is made of more than 60,000 glass bottles placed on their sides with the bottom ends facing outward. They're held in place by special cement binding material.

Makinen used "a secret mortar,” Asiala said. “It has withstood the cold and the heat.”

Rumor has it that Makinen used chipped or flawed bottles from his bottling plant, and most of them bore the telltale marks of their origin. These bottles, which had distinct shapes and colors, came together to create something truly special.

The words “Happy Home,” spelled out with brown bottles, stand out on the front of the house, and they're surrounded by a border of green. The sides of the house boast intricate designs composed of green bottles that form geometric shapes.  

Makinen died in 1942 before he could move into the home. His family, however, resided in the glass bottle house until 1983, when the Kaleva Historical Society acquired the property and moved in.

Today, the unique building at 14551 Wuoksi serves as the Kaleva Historical Museum. It houses a collection of exhibits that depict the Finnish-American history of the community and features artifacts from the 19th and 20th centuries.

The museum, now celebrating 40 years, has become a cherished institution.

“I think the house is beautiful; it's a piece of art, especially when the sun is shining from the east on the bottles,” Asiala said. “They glisten.”

This unique attraction has gained national recognition, earning a place on the National Register of Historic Places. It also drew the attention of Ripley’s Believe It or Not, according to the Visit Manistee County website.

“It's a piece of art on the outside, and on the inside, it's a piece of history,” Asiala remarks.

A visit to the glass bottle house is not only a journey into a remarkable work of art but also a step back in time to explore the rich heritage of Kaleva.

In metro Detroit, an intriguing transformation is underway. A 1,225-square-foot house built in 1937 in Hazel Park is adorned with glass bottles on its exterior. It’s undergoing a complete renovation, according to Carl Schiller from, who acquired the property in 2021.

“It's going to be a brand new modern house on the inside, but we're keeping everything funky and cool on the outside,” Schiller says.

The house at 39 W. Elza is expected to hit the market in the spring.

Kaleva Bottle House in Manistee County is made of 60,000 glass bottles

Glass Juice Bottles Brendel Hightower is an assistant editor at the Detroit Free Press. Contact her at Support local journalism: Subscribe to the Detroit Free Press.