Sunday, January 18, 2015

House on the Rock in Wisconsin

In 1836, in what is now Belmont, WI, the first joint session of the Wisconsin Territory was held in these buildings.  At that time, Wisconsin Territory included not only what is now Wisconsin, but Iowa, Minnesota and the eastern part of North and South Dakota.

I had never been to House on the Rock, but had heard many things about it.  Now, I love outdoor sculptures and they had plenty.

You enter through a visitor center, which is where you buy your tickets, visit the gift shop, and oh yes, go out to the balcony and overlook the Japanese gardens.  The building in the foreground is where you learn about the House on the Rock and its builder, The Alex Jordan Center.  Lots of history and pictures.  From there you actually head down a walkway to the House On the Rock itself.

The bluff (60' high and 70' X 200') on which the house sits was originally called Deer Shelter Bluff, and it's where Alex Jordan picnicked with his family as a child.  He returned in the 1940s and dreamed of an artists refuge where he could pursue his interests in music, literature and sculpture.  In the beginning there was no way to access the bluff except by climbing, so he hauled all the materials needed on his back, up to the top of the bluff.  Most of the house was built by himself over a period of years.  By the 1960s he couldn't keep it secret any longer and people came and paid 25 cents to see his House on the Rock.  

The Infinity Room juts out 218 feet with no supports and has 3,000 windows.

They don't allow you to walk clear to the end.

It is furnished just as it was when Alex Jordan lived here.  Some items are authentic, and many are reproductions.

He loved music and has a large collection of automated music machines such as this.  They all play periodically while you are strolling about.

Here you can see some of the original bluff on which he built.  It was designed in a style similar to Frank Lloyd Wright, whose own Taliesin Home and his school is just down the road.

In addition to the House, there are collections in themed buildings nearby.  You can stroll through the Streets of Yesterday; Music of Yesterday, which not only has the collection of automated music machines, but boasts the worlds largest carousel; Heritage of the Sea; Christmas building with a collection of Santa's; and much, much more.

There are so many lights, it's hard to see the carousel itself.  There were also several smaller carousels as well.

The newest area is The Transportation Building.  I especially liked this old style hearse.

One of the many room size automated music machines.

There are walkways between the exhibits.  
There are no words to really describe this place, you just have to go see it, to believe it.

Frank Lloyd Wright's visitor center.  From here you can join a tour of Frank Lloyd Wright's personal home, Taliesin.  I've toured several of his homes previously, so chose not to spend the time on the tour.  You can see the home from the highway, but are not allowed on the actual property except via the tour bus.

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