Tom Kelly Bottle House

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Rhyolite Historic Townsite Beatty Nevada, Beatty, NV, USA

Tom Kelly Bottle House Beatty Reviews

cotton_foam cotton_f…
316 reviews
intriguing... Jan 02, 2015
Built in 1906 on Rhyolite townsite is a bottle house by Tom Kelly, a local miner. The house constructed of 51,000 empty beer, liquor, soda and medicine bottles whom Mr. Kelly collected. The empty beer and liquor were from the back yards of local saloons. There were 53 "bars" in that town then so; it was pretty fast to collect bottles. Mr. Kelly did not even bother to wash the bottles before he used them. Probably because the water lines in Rhyolite had not been laid yet at the time. They had to buy water in those days for up to $5.00 a barrel in which at that time was pretty expensive. So, wasting it on washing bottles for building materials is not a sane idea at least in Mr. Kelley’s mind.

Mr. Kelly idea to build a house out of bottles was not because he was just a stupid, absurd man, but because lumber was scarce at the time. It took the guy almost two years to make it, and cost $2,500. In today’s money that is about a million dollars or so! And, mind you, he already was in his mid-70s when the construction of the house began.

Mr. Kelly did not live in the house though. He raffled it off for $5.00 a ticket, and everyone was buying. For that amount, if you get lucky you might own a nice three-room house. He cemented the interior of the house, so when you are inside you would not know it is a house made of bottles. A particular Bennet family won the drawing and lived in the Bottle House until 1914.

Paramount Pictures restored and reroofed the house in 1925, for the filming of a movie setting. After which, the bottle house turns it over to the Beatty Improvement Association for maintenance as a historical relic. Between the years of 1932 to 1940, unnamed people cared for the Bottle House. A couple with their grandson lived and took charge of the Bottle House and invited tourists to view the townsite.

The Bottle House had been into rehabilitation in 2005. Original materials were used in the restoration whenever possible. The metal bands installed around the house helps the walls keep their integrity for another 100 years!

From 1990 to present, the townsite is being managed by the Bureau of Land Management. There is no longer full-time caretakers. While the rest of the buildings in Rhyolite are now decaying; the Bottle House is still standing up to this day.


The bottle house is found in the Rhyolite Townsite --a ghost town in southwestern Nevada between the city of Beatty, Nevada and Death Valley National Park in California. It stands on the main street of this little town, only a few meters walk away to the ruins of John Cook Bank building. The house is next to a plot; looks like a private property. The bottle house is surrounded by a wire fences, but the gate is open, and there's no entrance fee.

Next to the bottle home are sculptures made of broken glass including miniature houses, bottle ropes, bird house, and many more. Most of these sculptures were already there since the 1950s. Also, surrounding the house are rusting cans, silver wares, and a whole bunch of junkies.

My thoughts? I think the bottle house is a one strangely-cool creation of a one eccentric guy!
Courtesy of the Nevada Historical …
photo from the internet (circa 80)
my own shot, of course! :-)
sculptures made of broken glasses
6 / 6 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
cotton_foam says:
Ils: hahaha! yep, stupid but smart!!

Andy: What a waste, we went to Disneyland before, but did not know about bottle houses yet! Oh well next time, I'll make sure we visit the house!
Posted on: Feb 07, 2015
Andy99 says:
Those desert Bottle Houses are fabulous! There is one at Calico Ghost Town in the Mojave Desert. Grandma Prisbrey's Bottle Village in Simi Valley is currently closed due to earthquake damage. Hopefully i will reopen one day. Cars Land at Disney's California Adventure salutes the Bottle Houses with one made of automotive oil bottles. :)
Posted on: Feb 04, 2015
Ils1976 says:
stupid, smart ... I don't know, but interesting it certainly is! :D
Posted on: Feb 04, 2015
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