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'Beer Can House' in Houston becomes historic monument

Posted By GABRIELLE LEVY, UPI.com   |   July 29, 2013 at 4:52 PM   |   Comments

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July 29 (UPI) -- John Milkovisch couldn't bring himself to throw away his beer cans.

A child of the Depression, Milkovisch ended up with thousands of empty beer cans in the attic of his Houston, Texas home. After a 1968 project replacing his front lawn with cement embedded with marbles -- he got tired of landscaping -- Milkovisch moved on to renovating his home.

Aluminum siding was popular at the time, so Milkovisch got in on the trend, using the more than 50,000 cans he had already collected, meticulously flattening them and attaching them to the walls of his home.

"The funny thing is that it wasn't... to attract attention," said Ruben Guevara, head of Orange Show Center for Visionary Art, which restored the house after Milkovisch and his wife, Mary, passed away. "If there was a house similar to this a block away, he wouldn't take the time to go look at it. He had no idea what was the fascination about what he was doing."

Milkovisch, who was a retired upholsterer for the Southern Pacific Railroad, didn't drink all the beer himself. Mary Milkovisch pitched in, as well as his neighbors, and the cans are from many different brands of beer.

His favorite? "Whatever's on special," he always said.

The Orange Show Center acquired the house and restored it, starting after Milkovisch died in the mid-1980s and Mary Milkovisch a decade later.

The house is now open year round for visitors, and is something of a local landmark.

"It tickles me to watch people screech to a halt," Milkovisch once said. "They get embarrassed. Sometimes they drive around the block a couple of times. Later they come back with a car-load of friends."

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