Rockome Gardens

Bottle Houses

7Up bottle house

The 7-Up Bottle House was built in about 1967 and featued nearly 1200 bottles. It was a simple windowless, rectangular gabled structure with a door at one end. The bottles were not collected at Rockome Gardens but were purchased from a bottling company which was no longer needed them. Originally the house was built with a row of upright bottles along the ridgeline, but a number of them have fallen off just a year or two later when this postcard photo was taken.

7-Up bottles

7-Up bottles

The ridge bottles had been replaced and broken again by the time of this photo in 2005. The house was deteriorating by that time, with the corner of the roof rotted away and the door missing.


7-Up bottles

Just to the south of the 7-Up bottle house are the twin lighthouses which were built in the 40s, several decades before the bottle houses. A photo from the 1947 Decatur Daily Review shows what they originally looked like, with cupolas on top and small windows spiralling up the sides. In size and proportions, they look vaguely similar to the windmill at Mollie Jenson's zoo, though it is unlikely there is any direct connection between the two.

Fresca Bottle House

The more-elaborate Fresca Bottle House was built in 1969 and incorporated nearly 2,400 bottles in its construction. The house was built in a T-shape with a short door at the end, low windows, and wide eaves with scalloped bargeboards.

Adults had to stoop to enter the low building, like a child's playhouse. It was furnished with child-sized chairs and a small table. The house was originally surrounded by a foot-high concrete wall embedded with more bottles, but this was gone by time of the photo from 2000 above.

Near the corner by the entrance there was an even smaller bottle dog house with Fresca bottles embedded in the roof and walls.

The house was left rough and unpainted on the inside, so that its construction method could easily be seen. The house was made from plywood, covered by a thick layer of concrete in which the bottles and rocks are embedded. Many bottles, especially those on the roof, were shattered due to frost and snow, or popped out of their places. Most of the bottles have their necks covered by mounds of cement in order to prevent rain or moisture entering them, but smooth glass bottles are difficult to bond to concrete.

In early 2006 both bottle houses were damaged during attempts to move them. Due to their already fragile and deteriorated condition, the park owners decided to dismantle both bottle houses.

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