August 21, 2009

The Beer Can House - Houston, TX

What would you do if you were tired of mowing the lawn? Re-landscape with concrete. What would you do if you were tired of painting your house? Decorate it with beer cans. At least that's what you would do if you were John Milkovisch.

In 1968, the retired upholsterer covered his lawn with concrete and redwood then decorated it with marbles, rocks and bits of metal. Next, he turned his attention to his house. For eighteen years, Milkovisch used around 50,000 discarded beer cans to cover his home's exterior. When asked what compelled him to do it, he said, "I guess I just thought it was a good idea. And it's easier than painting." Fiscally, it proved to be a smart move. It saved on the cost of paint and lowered the house's energy bills. Not to mention it was a great way to recycle all those empty beer cans he had lying around. I think Milkovisch was ahead of his time. Decades before today's green, eco-friendly culture, he found a great way cheaply save the planet while drinking beer at the same time. That's one hell of an inspiration for a conservationist kegger!

It's a very amusing and very impressive home. The sides are paneled with beer cans while curtains that hang from the roof are strings of circular beer can tops. Milkovisch wanted to make the house "sing" in the wind. There are also bits of Milkovisch's sense of humor everywhere. The outdoor planter - also covered in beer cans - has words like "Is," "Pie," and "Not" on it. They don't actually mean anything. Milkovisch just thought it would be funny to watch people stand around trying to decode some kind of message from the planter.

Inside, visitors can see how Milkovisch worked and learn about the life he shared with his wife Mary. (Fun Fact: When asked what she thought of his decision to cover their home in beer cans, she said, "I thought he was off his rocker but I'm used to it now.") You can see where he cut up cans and worked on his designs. There are also displays where you can read about Milkovisch's biography, the history of the house, and more amusing anecdotes of Milkovisch's clever sense of humor. (Fun Fact: At the beach, he would sometimes put an old faucet in the sand just to watch people come by and try to get water from the spout.)

While Milkovisch thought of his project as an amusing past time, it has become regarded by the Houston community as a city landmark and work of art. The Orange Show Center for Visionary Art acquired the Beer Can House after John Milkovisch and his wife, Mary, passed away. The Orange Show Center is now working on a massive restoration project to keep the house's original integrity.

Travel Distance: 27 miles
Total Trip Time: 1 hour
Soundtrack: Do I really need to say we were still listening to country radio?



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