In the 1940's, a few miles west of Madison, Wisconsin
, Alex Jordan
began building a 14 room house out of a 60 foot chimney of rock. The unusual construction project attracted the curiosity of his rural neighbors - many stopped by to see what Jordan was building. By 1961, after hundreds of curiosity seekers had knocked on his door, Jordan decided to charge admission
and open his home to the public. Jordan didn't quit there, though, he started collecting oddities and contracted to have many more built. As his collections grew he continually expanded the House On the Rock
to house them all. A visitor today has to walk nearly three miles to see all of the exhibits.
The whole project was a slap in the face to world famous architect - and nearby resident - Frank Lloyd Wright. Years earlier Wright had dismissed one aspiring student at nearby Taliesen with the remark, "I wouldn't hire you to design a cheese crate or a chicken coop." The aspiring architect was Alex Jordan's father.
Among the many things to be found at the House On the Rock are: the world's largest carousel, a vast collection of dolls and doll houses, a maritime museum, numerous music machines, a copy of the Jewels of Royalty, the swords and armor of knights and samurai, art of the Orient, a large collection of guns, miniature circuses, and animated mechanical orchestras.
Perhaps most impressive is the Infinity Room -- a 218-foot long hallway that juts out horizontally over a deep valley. The Infinity Room has glass walls and you seem to be suspended unsupported out over the treetops - the ground is over 150-feet below. Alex Jordan envisioned the room when he first began building the house. The room tapers so that even as you near the very end it seems to stretch on forever.
While there are many antique and collector-quality exhibits, the vast majority are "fake" -- recreations commissioned by Jordan. Fake, yet of such quality and craftsmanship they are in their own right priceless. Many of the oddities were in fact designed by Jordan. It's definitely worth spending a day wandering through the House On the Rock.
The House On the Rock is located at 5754 Hwy. 23, Spring Green, Wisconsin. Seasonal schedules and ticket prices can be found at: