The Bottle House Museum
In 1941, a unique home was built in Kaleva out of 60,000 glass bottles by John Makinen.
Mr. Makinen owned the local pop bottling factory, and he used chipped or flawed bottles from his pop bottling factory for his house. It was designed with artistic placement of the many different colored bottles and was a tourist draw long before it became a museum.
In 1983, with fund raising efforts by the community, the Kaleva Historical Society was able to purchase the property from the John Makinen family and thus established its new and permanent home. Historic items are faithfully inventoried, preserved and displayed. Over the years, visitors from all over the world come to appreciate the history of the area through these artifacts. The museum is home to many exhibits illustrating the Finnish-American history of the community including businesses, farming, and early settlers.
The Bottle House is listed on the National Historic Register and has been featured in travel publications.
14551 Wuoksi Street
Kaleva MI 49645
Memorial Day Weekend to October
Noon to 4 pm
Lighting up the Christmas Holiday in Kaleva 2021
The Kaleva Historical Society announces special events to celebrate the Christmas holidays at the Bottle House Museum. The museum will be open on the Saturdays in December leading up to Christmas from 12-4 pm. There will be the Finnish Heaven, which is a wooden frame holding foil stars that hangs over the Christmas tree. This custom came from Finland and is reminiscent of children watching the stars on Christmas Eve. The colored lights on the tree are reflected in the stars and the traditional ornaments of straw and real candles complete the scene. Old fashioned toys and other gifts are scattered under the tree and a heritage quilt serves as the tree skirt.
The front porch of the sauna is the setting for the old-fashioned crèche or Nativity set. It has been part of the Bottle House Christmas for as long as folks can remember. Lights and straw make the figures very life-like and remind us of the real reason for Christmas.
The Saturdays will offer visitors these special gifts: December 4 everyone will receive a traditional Scandinavian tree ornament. December 11 hot chocolate and festive cookies will be served, possibly in the sauna. December 18, a taste of Finland will offer guests traditional Finnish fare such as nissua, sweet bread with cardamom. Finally, on December 21, the Winter Solstice, the community will place 1000 luminaries on graves in the cemetery. Meet across from the cemetery at 4:00 to help with this lighting.
The Kaleva Art Gallery is also offering customers special treats
in the form of workshops.
December 4, from 12-2 is a workshop to make Christmas cards.
December 11, from 12-2 is an opportunity to make a driftwood Santa ornament.
December 18, from 12-2 guests may create a Christmas plaque.
These events are open to all ages. A $5 donation is appreciated.
Kaleva Art Gallery, located in downtown Kaleva is a cooperative of over 25 artists.
It is the place to shop locally and find unique Christmas gifts.
Open hours are Friday and Sunday, 12-4, Saturday, 10-4.
There will be additional hours closer to Christmas.
Christmas Open House 2021 - Please check back for details.
Many of the Bottle House Exhibits relate to the early settlement of Kaleva, Finnish American culture, and early 20th century farm life. Special exhibits include the Makinen Tackle Company, the Co-Operative businesses in Kaleva's history, and displays honoring Kaleva's veterans and Robert Rengo, Kaleva's longest serving Village President. Visitors love to search the extensive photo collection for their relatives or original homesteads of their ancestors.
The Makinen Tackle Company Exhibit
In May 2009, the Makinen Tackle Room opened at the Bottle House Museum. The Makinen Tackle Company was established in Kaleva in the 1940’s by William Makinen. In 2008, The Village of Kaleva purchased a large collection of lures and other items produced by the business from long time collector Bill D. Gregory from Osh Kosh, Wisconsin.
The Makinen Tackle Company opened in 1945. Makinen Tackle was started out of Bill’s garage, with 2-3 employees and by 1946 expanded to fifty employees from the Kaleva area. In 1945 Makinen Tackle sold 135,000 lures and set a goal for 500,000 in 1946. Mak-Kraft, which was another business endeavor of Bill Makinen, produced wildlife lamps and other household ornaments. In later years, the company produced quality furniture.
Today the Makinen Tackle Room in the Bottle House Museum displays examples of every lure produced by the company as well as many Mak-Kraft decorative items. In addition you will see items from the Bear Creek Bait Company and an original hand painted mural by local artist Martha West.
Kaleva Murals Exhibit
In 1940, six murals created through the National Youth Administration (NYA) and designed especially to capture the area’s Finnish culture, were revealed to the Kaleva community. The murals depict six different scenes from the Finnish epic poem “The Kalevala,” after which the village is named.
Part of Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal, the NYA provided work and education to young Americans during the Great Depression. In Kaleva, it was the driving force behind a mural project designed and overseen by artist Harry W. Armstrong, and painted by youngsters Dorothy Bantee, Florence Lopnas, Margery Newman, Audrey Engstrom, Raymond Robtuski and Gladys Anderson.
To read the newspaper article about the 75th Anniversary of the Murals in 2015, click here.