Wha???!!! What did I just see?
That is the typical response you hear from people as they walk out of the House on the Rock in Spring Green, Wisconsin.
The House on the Rock is either the ultimate collection of a man with eclectic interests or that of a serial hoarder.
I have heard it both ways.
The house was built by Alex Jordan, Jr. Jordan struggled academically, according to his bio at the visitors center of the house. He attended college, but apparently had so many interests; he did not stay focused on one thing for a major. So, college went by the wayside.
He bought the land with help from his parents. Jordan then allegedly built the place primarily by himself. He had an idea of a room should look. When, it did not turn out as he had envisioned it was not uncommon for him to tear it down and rebuild it.
Once he finished the main living area, his mind apparently kept going with ideas to add different rooms. The living quarters reflect that of a 1960s-70s era bachelor. Close your eyes and you can imagine the music blaring through stereo speakers, and people mingling drinks or other forms of “enlightenment” in hands.
The main floor appears to be in need of some serious dusting. That apparently has bugged some visitors, when reading reviews on Tripadvisor.com. However, Lisa and I agreed that it added to the atmosphere. Plus, in my view, it was not THAT dusty.
A room with a view juts out from the main floor. The Infinity room gives people a view of the woods and hillside…from above the woods and hillside. The room is a couple hundred feet long and narrows at the end. In the middle of the room is a glass window, where you can look down at the trees hundreds of feet below you. If you are tepid of heights or motion, it will be a challenge for you, but it’s a must-do.
After leaving the main living area, the real fun begins! Rooms containing mind-blowing attractions – from a two-floor carousel made of everything BUT horses to a giant octopus fighting a whale – await you.Mind blowing visit to House on the Rock in Wisconsin Click To Tweet
The carousel room has a giant two-floor carousel that takes up enough space for another house, I swear. The carousel has all kinds of weird-looking things on it, except the horses. Horses adorn the walls of the room.
The large carousel is not the only carousel in the room. Smaller ones are nearby.
Looking up to the ceiling, you see mannequins dressed as fairies. Then, off to the corner are the four horsemen…according to Alex Jordan’s imagination.
Moving along, you walk through smaller exhibits of a circus-themed room, with small scale circus tents in glass-enclosed displays. Then, BAM! You are in a large circus room, with an elephant pyramid. Circus-dressed mannequins stand atop the elephants. Looking across from the pyramid, you see a huge circus wagon with a full-sized band playing.
Atop the walls of the circus room are wheels from circus wagons. Other displays sit behind glass along the walls.
Leave that room, walk a few more feet and you are in dollhouse land. Several dollhouses site behind glass, to be admired by many visitors.
A major attraction is the Main Street USA room. You walk in and immediately see an old-fashioned main street, with a barber shop, fire department and horseless carriage workshop. At the end of the street is a large band, consisting of both mannequins and self-playing instruments. A set of whiskey jugs play themselves. Like, I said, mind-blowing!
Next to the street band is a large locomotive. Eclectic items set up anywhere.
Moving along, you run into music rooms throughout the house. One of particular interest was an Asian orchestra. Put in a couple of tokens (each person paying for the full visit gets four free tokens. Plus, they can be purchased along the tour) and you hear a song from “Madame Butterfly.” The drummer raises his eyebrows and moves his eyes. He is very freaky to watch.
There is one music room in which an orchestra of musical instruments plays. A large chandelier hangs from the ceiling above the instruments.
The grand attraction most people love to see is the whale and octopus fighting. A giant whale – longer than the Empire State Building is high – takes up a large room and stands more than two floors high. The scene makes one think of Jules Verne’s “Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea.” There are remains of a boat in the whale’s mouth.
Again, the room has a nautical theme with items on display along the wall and other areas.
One last freaky room to mention is the doll room. Some of these dolls are just too freaky to look at. When you gaze at them, you think that you wouldn’t be too surprised if they started talking to you. Freaky!
The house is full of a variety of rooms. They each show a wide range of interests on Jordan’s part. From medieval items, royal crowns to cars and an assortment of guns, there is something for everyone.
The back story of the house’s origins included a story that Jordan built the house after being rebuffed by the great architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright allegedly told a young Alex Jordan that he lacked the talent to learn under a great architect as himself. Historically, the timeline does not match up and thus this likely did not happen,
according to researchers.
Instead, Jordan built the house because he could. Once he felt he had completed as much as he could at that point,
Jordan started entertaining friends at the house.
At some point, people driving by the property asked to see it.
In 1961, it was opened to the public. His dad supported the idea of charging people admission to the house. They agreed to charge visitors 50 cents for the tour. Today, to tour the entire property, it costs $28.50.
Some of the items on display are legitimate collectibles. Some are created specifically for the attraction.
Just know that once you enter the house, you need to suspend your sense of reality and just enjoy the ride.
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