ReadMikeNow is a freelance writer who loves to travel. He likes to find unique stories about interesting people and places.
Wisconsin's House on the Rock
The House on the Rock is a structure made up of rooms, shops, gardens, and more. It is generally considered to be architecturally unique by all who visit. Located in the Spring Green area of Wisconsin, it's become a popular tourist attraction over the years.
The structure was designed by a man named Alex Jordan, Jr. Many of the local residents will tell visitors the House on the Rock resembles many different things, yet it is not actually one of those things it resembles. It may be called a house, but it doesn't function as a house. The House on the Rock, in many ways, also resembles a museum. It is loaded with several objects put into groups and put on display for visitors to experience. And actually, many of the exhibits seem to be designed to confuse visitors rather than inform them.
Alex Jordan, Jr. (1914–1989)
Jordan was recognized as the eccentric architectural genius behind the design of the House on the Rock. Writers have described Jordan as a reclusive person and a shadowy figure who behaved similar to the late Howard Hughes. Those who knew him agree, Jordan did not like publicity and tried to avoid personal attention.
During his life, Jordan attempted a number of different careers. Eventually, he committed himself to his love of architecture and electronic devices—a love he had since he was young. The 450 foot tall Deer Shelter Rock was one of Jordan's favorite wilderness retreats. It was 1945 when he started to build a house on Deer Shelter Rock. His goal was to provide a building that promoted the concept of a structure design based on fusion with nature.
As he got older and had more money to spend, he acquired a large number of objects at very reasonable prices. He'd use these objects for a new exhibit or trade them to get new objects for an existing exhibit.
The House on the Rock was built over the course of 50 years. Jordan started the construction in the late 1940s, and active construction happened through the 1990s. This is when Jordan's last designs for the house were finished. The structure's creation and funding were from the tourist trade. The locals supported the idea of a structure built on an isolated huge rock.
During the 1950s, Jordan hosted a number of popular parties at the structure for hundreds of guests. Nobody was charged admission to the structure until 1960 when it officially became a tourist attraction.
A Popular Attraction
Once it was open, Jordan's House on the Rock became a very popular tourist attraction. The admission prices had to eventually be increased in an attempt to reduce the crowds that came to see it. But in actuality, the price of admission had little to no impact on the number of people wanting to see the House on the Rock.
As the money kept coming in, Jordan made quite a bit and kept putting the financial success back into his creation. He would build features for the structure that people found elaborate and outrageous. This only increased the popularity of the structure.
Jordan built an indoor Main Street complete with shops constructed to a real-life scale. There is also a humongous carousel with a wide variety of animals—horses being the exception. There is a large diorama of a squid and whale engaged in an epic battle. There are rooms filled with a number of different musical instruments that are programmed to play robotically. There are also special doll houses, and even more!
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Crazy Features of the Home
When visitors travel through the small spaces, many unique elements can be seen and then disappear. There is a functioning kitchen that is sunken into the floor. There is a live tree growing up through the ceiling. There is a sofa that's carpeted and sits very close to a fireplace that is large enough to cook a regular sized person.
Visitors notice there is a strong Japanese influence in the home's decor. All things have carpeting and are located on the top or base of a short number of stairs. As visitors explore the structure, the robotic bands can be heard at various places, typically playing classic tunes such as Bolero.
Outside the House
Even after visitors get to the outside of the house, they continue to have very unique experiences.
The Streets of Yesterday building is an indoor recreation facility designed in the Victorian era. In this place, people can choose from a variety of coin-operated music machines. There are robotic fingers and unseen singing that begins after the machines are given a token.
Visitors are left wondering if the instruments are being played by people or are on tape. There is also a blimp hangar that is three levels called Heritage of the Sea. There are some ship replicas and a ramp with a railing that provides a climb to the top part of the chamber. This is where visitors can make their way to the exit.
Visitors are greeted with a wide variety of carousel music. There are over 235 carousel creatures and they have been collected from all over the world! Some have a demonic appearance and seem to be only half human. Some say it looks like a runaway circus from the netherworld.
Hanging from the walls are hundreds of mannequin angels, and some happen to be topless. Some are hanging from the ceiling and rotating. In this room, visitors are able to see over 180 chandeliers. To leave this room, visitors must go through the open mouth of a dragon and walk down its throat which has thick carpeting. This is also another place where visitors can use tokens on music machines.
This room has several catwalks that cross one another. This makes it possible for visitors to take videos and pictures of the large theater organs from various angles. There are also huge copper vats as well as large chandeliers made from red glass. Visitors can exit this room and look forward to seeing the gift store, arts village store, and more.
After Alex Jordan died in 1989, the pace of creation for the House on the Rock slowed down for the first time in decades. The new owners, who Jordan hand-picked, agreed to maintain his vision for the structure. The Alex Jordan Centre is one of the most recent additions since Jordan's death.
Here, visitors can see an introductory video, hear inspirational quotes, and sit on the well-worn lawn chair Jordan liked to use when he went to view the different workshops. When people come to visit the House on the Rock, it's difficult not to be overwhelmed with the number of objects available for viewing. It provides numerous opportunities that are unable to be experienced in any other place. It's truly one-of-a-kind!
Visit their website for the most up-to-date information on the attraction.
Address: 5754 State Road 23 Spring Green, WI 53588
Phone Number: (608) 935-3639
House on the Rock's hours and the day's open change with each season. So, depending on when you are trying to visit, make sure you check their website to see what the hours are.
As of summer 2022, the price of admittance is as follows:
- Adult (Age 18 and up) $28.95
- Junior (Age 7-17) $15.95
- Child (Age 6 and under) $2.95