The Beer Can House in Houston: A Local Folk Art Attraction
Folk Art at Its Best!
If you live in Houston, Texas or plan to visit, be sure to put the Beer Can House on your list of places to see. It is a folk art treasure! It was deemed to be the number one Houston landmark in 2010 by Click2Houston, which is one of our local television channels.
The Beer Can House at 222 Malone Street has been drawing hoards of visitors ever since John Milkovisch, the owner of the property, started making eccentric embellishments to his property in what used to be a middle-class neighborhood.
Suffice it to say that John liked his beer. He started collecting the empties of his six-pack-a-day personal consumption, collapsing them, and storing them in his garage (which eventually became his workshop).
Milkovisch retired from the upholstery business for Southern Pacific Railroad and decided that mowing the grass and painting his house for regular maintenance was not something he enjoyed doing. So his creativity started with getting rid of his grass by putting down concrete and artistically placing thousands of marbles, stones, and other collected and found materials into the concrete for aesthetic reasons. This even included utilizing things like doorknobs!
His neighbors were probably amused in the beginning but had no idea just how far this man’s ideas would continue to blossom and evolve.
Quite the eccentric man—and possessed of a great sense of humor—it was reported that when he would go to the beach in Galveston, he would put a pipe fitted with a faucet into the sand and sit nearby eating his picnic lunch. He would lie in wait for visitors to try to get some water from the tap!
Mr. Milkovisch started to overlay the boards of the house with flattened beer cans of every brand and description. It was a colorful mix of whatever happened to be on sale in the grocery stores. He did mix in a few soda cans for good measure, but the vast majority of his cans came from recycled aluminum beer cans.
He started from the bottom up, and his wife kept admonishing him to stop, but stop he did not. Eventually, the entire house was covered with beer cans. The fence, mailbox, and sculptures in the yard (of every size and description) did not escape his attention. He was quite the craftsman and artist.
One can often hear the house prior to seeing it, as the wind chime garlands made out of can tops and pulls make a tinkling sound when the wind blows. This also offered additional shade for John and Mary Milkovisch when sitting on their front porch.
John Milkovisch devoted 20 years of his life to fashioning what is now known as the Beer Can House. Over 50,000 beer cans are reported to have been used in its creation.
The inside of the house was left to Mary Milkovisch to decorate. Apparently, she liked it feminine and filled with bric-a-brac. It must have been quite a contrast between the outside of the house and the inside.
Touring the Beer Can House
As time evolved and word of this folk art house spread, more and more people started driving by and photographing the house. When the Milkovisch’s still lived there, they took this activity in good stride, as did the neighbors.
Since the owners are now both deceased, Houston’s Orange Show Foundation purchased the Beer Can House with the intent of preserving this folk art monument. They intend to maintain the house in as close to its original shape as possible.
In my husband's and my last visit to this unique folk art attraction, the Milkovisch’s grandson was there leading people through the house and yard and answering people’s queries about his grandparents.
- The house is now open for weekend tours on Saturdays and Sundays from 12 to 5 PM, weather permitting. On major holidays, the house is closed.
- Costs for touring the house and grounds include viewing a film inside of the house plus exhibits.
- Adult tickets cost $5 per person and children under 12 have free admission.
- For special group tours or private rentals, contact the Orange Foundation at 713-926-6368.
Many people merely drive by this eye-catching attraction and photograph it from the exterior, which is what we used to do with visitors to our city prior to knowing that it was open on weekends.
Recycling to the Nth Degree!
John Milkovisch took recycling to a whole new level. As you now know, he used every type of object besides his beer cans to create this now famous Beer Can House in Houston.
We get the biggest kick out of our showing our visitors this site. Of all the wonderful things in and around Houston, Texas to enjoy and photograph, without exception the Beer Can House always goes home with them as a photographic memory of their trip here.
Be sure and visit this attraction for some recycling ideas of your own. You just might create your own unique masterpiece!
What do you think of the way John Milkovisch did recycling?
Location of the Beer Can House in Houston, Texas
© 2018 Peggy Woods