Wednesday, April 8, 2015

5 Fantastic Glass (Bottle) Houses

You know the old adage, “People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones,” but have you ever wondered why someone would even build a glass house?

Bottle houses became popular in the early 1900, especially out in the western U.S. where wood was scarce. Many structures of the time were constructed using what items were at hand and that included beer and whiskey bottles.

Here are five great examples of some unique bottle houses.

1) Palace Oz, Chelyabinsk, Russia
Photo Valery Zvonarev
This is the house that Hamidullah Ilchibaev built – from champagne bottles: over 12,000 of them. It took 52-year-old Ilchibaev over three years to collect the empty bottles from local restaurants, the rest he purchased. He built the house by stacking the bottles as you would bricks, starting with the foundation and insulating between the bottles for added warmth. The windows are inset to accommodate the bottles width, but the inside the home looks like any other. Ilchibaev said that it cost five times less to build with bottles than with regular building materials.

Hamidullah Ilchibaev
Ilchibaev said he constructed the house as a tribute to his 18-year-old son who died tragically. Once completed, he gave the 1,000 square feet home to his eldest son and daughter-in-law for a wedding present. How fitting!

2) Tom Kelly’s Bottle House, Rhyolite, Nevada
Tom Kelly's Houses 1906
It was 1905 when Tom Kelly decided to build himself a house. Living in the Nevada desert ruled out building with wood; too expensive to have hauled in. Kelly was a simple man and he wanted a simple house so he collected over 50,000 beer and patent medicine bottles to construct his three room L-shaped home. With over four-dozen taverns in the town, Kelly had a ready supply of bottles to begin. It took about a year and a half to build, and when he was done he had spent around $2,500 for the interior wood and fixtures.

Tom Kelly's House Today
During the 1920s, the house was used in a Hollywood film, and from 1936 into the 1950s, it was operated as a tourist museum. In 1954 Tommy Thompson bought the little house and raised his family of eight there. Thompson left in the 1980s, and over the years the house fell into disrepair. In 2005, the foundation was stabilized, bottles were replaced and the house was repaired. No one currently lives there.

3) Doc Hope’s Bottle House, Hillsville, Virginia

John Hope was a pharmacist in Hillsville when he hired Friel Dalton to build a playhouse for his daughter made from bottles. Hope provided medicine bottles and Dalton collected wine bottles from local restaurants and bars.

Inside Doc Hope's House
It took Dalton about 3 months to construct the 15 foot by 25 foot house, but he built it in a different manner than most; he pointed the bottle out so that the walls were flush. Locals loved the house and nicknamed it “The House of A Thousand Headaches” in reference to the number of wine bottles used in the construction. The house still stands today and the town of Hopeville is interested in preserving the building.

The Castle-Like Front
4) Embalming Fluid House, Boswell, BC, Canada
Just across the Canadian border from Creston, Idaho stands a castle-like glass house built from embalming fluid bottles. Seriously! According to the builder, David H. Brown (who retired from the funeral business), he built it in order to "indulge a whim of a peculiar nature".  

A Death-Defying Side View
Built in 1952, the house was constructed in the shape of a three-leaf clover and is made up of over 500,000 empty embalming fluid bottles that Brown collected from fellow morticians. Inside, strips of wood and cedar boards form the walls. The two-story, 1,200 square foot house, boasts a living room with fireplace, kitchen, and master bedroom; upstairs is a second bedroom.

5) Les Maisons de Bouteilles (The Bottle Houses)
Prince Edward Island, Canada boasts not one, not two, but three bottle buildings, and all may be toured. In fact, this is the 35th season for the longest-standing tourism attraction on the island.

The Bottle House
The first structure to be constructed was a six gabled bottle house built in 1980 by 66 year old Édouard Arsenault. The house measures 20 feet by 14 feet and has three sections. It took approximately 12,000 bottles to build it using over 85 bags of cement to hold the 300 to 400 bottles per row in place.

The Tavern of Bottles
In 1982, Arsenault decided to put another 8,000 bottles to use by building a tavern. The hexagonal structure was originally used as the gift shop for the gabled house. In 1993, the structure was rebuilt because the harsh weather conditions on the island had taken a toll on the building.

Inside the Chapel
And for the pièce de résistance, Arsenault built a chapel with approximately 10,000 bottles. Inside, visitors will find an alter and pews made from bottles for quiet reflection. There is an amazing color display when the sun hits the bottles just right. Arsenault died in 1984 before he could continue his bottle village. Tours are available by contacting The Bottle Houses.

~ Joy