Skip to Content

How many Beer Bottles does it take to Build a House?

Tonya Prater, Owner

How many beer bottles does it take to build a house?

Tom Kelly's Bottle House in Rhyolite, Nevada That’s a good question and you should be able to find the answer when you visit the Tom Kelly Bottle House in Nevada. But the answer varies. According to two sources, it’s between 30,000 to 50,000 bottles. The bulk of those are unwashed beer bottles but if you look closely, you may find whiskey, soda and a few medicine bottles as well.

In 1906, Tom Kelly, began to construct his bottle house from discarded bottles he collected from local saloons in the town of Rhyolite, located along the eastern edge of Death Valley. The now defunct ghost town was booming and lumber was in short supply.

It took this 76-year old miner six months to complete this home, which I think is safe to say is the ultimate “upcycle” project.

Glass Bottle House Roadside Attraction in Death Valley National Park
The prosperity of this gold rush town didn’t last and when the gold dried up, so did the town. The home was abandoned sometime between 1912- 1914.

The home sat empty until around 1925 when it was restored and reroofed by Paramount Pictures to be used as a setting for the silent film, The Air Mail, an action movie starring Warner Baxter, Billie Dove, Mary Brian and Douglas Fairbanks.

This historical site was then maintained as a museum with various inhabitants until 1956.

Today there is a locked fence that surrounds the property. Visitors are able to get a closer look only when the gate is open and the caretaker is on property. No one is permitted inside the structure.

I didn’t happen to visit when the gate was unlocked, but I did find this short video that offers a closer look, including the interior, of this roadside attraction.

You’ll find the Bottle House just off Hwy 374 within the Rhyolite Ghost Town, the largest in Death Valley National Park.

Do you enjoy roadside attractions? Here are a few others: 

Monument of the States Roadside Attraction in Kissimmee
Roadside Attraction: The World’s Largest Basket
USS George Bancroft Roadside Attraction

Maria Alexandra @LatinAbroad

Tuesday 4th of February 2014

this is really cool! Never thought I would find such an attraction in DEATH Valley ;-)

-Maria Alexandra


Monday 3rd of February 2014

That could have been more of a challenge to build if he had personally emptied the bottles first! :) I'm sure he must have been quite the character.


Monday 3rd of February 2014

Your comment cracked me up, Nancie! Yes, building a house while emptying the bottles could have proved very challenging. :)


Sunday 2nd of February 2014

Looks like a very interesting spot. That takes some dedication to build! I wonder how long it took to find all those beer bottles. How did you find out about the place?


Sunday 2nd of February 2014

I saw the Bottle House on It's my favorite place to find fun, quirky attractions.

Jackie Smith

Friday 31st of January 2014

I love these far-out places you find for us! This one is still making me smile. Great job!


Saturday 1st of February 2014

You know you can count on me to find those off the wall attractions! :)


Friday 31st of January 2014

Hey - my G+ guess was spot on! This is so cool and I'll be it catches the sunlight beautifully. You find the neatest things Tonya! I'm sending this to my brother in law who has a nice piece of land and a friends who would help him :)


Saturday 1st of February 2014

And here I thought you'd already read the post, Jacquie! You're right, your guess was spot on! I'm thinking this would be a very affordable option to build a home, unless of course you need to drink all that beer on your own. Then I'm not too sure. :) Protection Status
This site uses cookies. Find out more about this site’s cookies.