|Kelly's Bottle House|
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Around 1905, during the Gold Rush, Tom Kelly built his famous house in Rhyolite, NV with 51,000 beer bottles and adobe. He chose bottles because "it's very difficult to build a house with lumber from a Joshua tree." It took him about a year and a half to build the 3-room, L-shaped building with gingerbread trim. The original cost of the building was $2,500 but most of that money was spent on the wood and fixtures. Some of the bottles were medicine bottles, but most were Busch beer bottle throw-aways from the 50 bars in town.
Rhyolite was a the center of the NV gold mining district. It went from Boomtown to Bust in just 6 years. In 1906, there were 10,000 residents but by 1920, there were only 14. In 1925, Paramount Pictures discovered the Bottle House and had it restored and re-roofed for a movie. It was then run as a museum for awhile but tourists were scarce.
From 1936-1954, Lewis Murphey took care of the house and invited tourists (the beginning of the ghost town tourism in Rhyolite).
From 1954 to 1969, Tommy Thompson lived there, raised eight kids and built an extraordinary garden. He was the last inhabitant. He tried to repair the house somewhat with concrete which when mixed with the desert heat, caused many bottles to crack. (Kelly had used adobe mud.) The House had fallen into miserable shape from earthquakes and weather. In 2005, it was repaired and a new roof was installed. The House is actually one of the few buildings left standing in the town.