Saturday, June 14, 2014


We’ve seen some amazing things throughout the country (and Canada) during our extended road trips. Each year, when we start the next segment of our odyssey, I find myself thinking nothing can top what we’ve seen on the last trip. But I’m always wrong.

Today we visited the House on the Rock near Madison, Wisconsin.


The house itself is difficult to see because of all the trees surrounding it. I sto…er…borrowed this shot from the web. I think it was taken from the roof of a walkway not accessible to visitors.

The following is from Wikipedia, so it must be true.  

Jane Smiley wrote this about the complex in 1993:

Though most people outside of the Midwest have never heard of it, the House on the Rock is said to draw more visitors every year than any other spot in Wisconsin…On top of a huge monolith, the House on the Rock reveals the spirit of its builder, Alex Jordan Jr., to be as single-minded and eccentric as [nearby resident Frank Lloyd] Wright's, but in substance almost absurdly opposed... And it is hard not to be overwhelmed by the House on the Rock. The sheer abundance of objects is impressive, and the warmth most of the objects exude, the way that the toys ask to be played with, for example, makes the displays inherently inviting. But almost from the beginning, it is too much. The house itself is dusty. Windowpanes are cracked. Books are water damaged. The collections seem disordered, not curated. In fact, there is no effort to explore the objects as cultural artifacts, or to use them to educate the passing hordes. If there were informative cards, it would be impossible to read them in the dark. Everything is simply massed together, and Alex Jordan comes to seem like the manifestation of pure American acquisitiveness, and acquisitiveness of a strangely boyish kind, as if he had finalized all his desires in childhood and never grown into any others.”


The house itself remains dark and dusty, and a bit damp with all of the rocks it is built among. The darkness made it difficult to take decent photographs, but it is truly one of those places which must be seen to be believed.


Jordan built a cantilevered extension to the house that you can see in this picture, which is actually a photo of a photo hanging inside the house. The real thing is difficult to see now through all of the trees.DSC_0232 

This is what it looks like inside. Jordan called it the Infinity Room. I wonder why.



There are three buildings to explore, including the house. There are items on display as small as tiny Asian porcelains and as big as huge industrial equipment and machinery.

DSC_0248 There is what is billed as the world’s largest merry-go-round. It’s a bit hard to see in this picture, but I like the image, and it’s my blog, so you can enjoy it, or not.



You can get a better idea from this picture, but there’s no way to photograph the whole thing. Jordan, with a lot of help, built this carousel himself, and there isn’t one horse on it. Instead, its populated with an assortment of realistic and fantastic animals and other creatures. The downside—nobody rides this wonderful machine. It’s there for viewing pleasure only.


Although there are no horses on the carousel, there are lots of carved equines hanging from the wall in several parts of the collection, so those of the equestrian persuasion shouldn’t feel left out.


There are several other small carousels on display too. They’re referred to as “doll carousels” and they include dolls of all, um, sizes.


It took us more than three hours to tour the House on the Rock, and we just glanced at some of the collections of Asian art, antique guns, armor, cannons, carriages, and so much stuff it would take a book to catalog. But I’m tired and I’m going to bed. If you are really interested, there are actually several books about the place, so go to and knock yourself out.


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