House on the Rock | Midwest Living

House on the Rock

5754 State Road 23
Spring Green  Wisconsin  53588
United States
(608) 935-3639
(800) 334-5275

Midwest Living Review

Trevor Meers
Freaky and weird, this place has survived as an attraction thanks to train-wreck curiosity.

We heard so many people rave about the House on the Rock that we felt like we couldn't drive through Spring Green without a visit. So we stopped, and we were more than a little surprised at what we found. Builder Alex Jordan (an eccentric on par with Howard Hughes) wanted to challenge people to find their own interpretations of his house and collections. Tours are self-guided and include three separate sections during the regular season (two during the off-season).

We took the tour and came away thinking the house is a bizarre, trippy riff on the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. The star is the Infinity Room, a cantilevered starship's prow jutting out over the forest. Jordan was fascinated with musical devices like calliopes and automated bands, so as you move through the house, "Bolero" constantly plays from some automated device tucked somewhere. Practically every surface is carpeted, and it's showing lots of wear.

From the house, you move to warehouses full of bizarre stuff Jordan accumulated during his life, and this is where things really start to get strange. On a winding, dark, noisy journey through hallways and rooms, you'll find suits of armor; weird firearms like eight-barreled pistol; lots of dolls; ship models; coin-operated oddities like "Death of a Drunkard," in which skeletons and Satan appear from behind a wall to drag a man to perdition; and automated musical instruments, including Genghis Khan playing the kettle drum.

To summarize, Jordan's legacy apparently was to bring together a reunion tour of every freaky image from your childhood nightmares: dolls, carousels, calliopes, clowns, dark and claustrophobic spaces, skeletons, devils and the feeling that it will never end. Even without the price tag of $20-$30, we just can't recommend this place as a worthwhile attraction.

March 14, 2009

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