One of the weirdest, yet unique houses in America is near the small town of Spring Green, Wisconsin. The House on the Rock has the world’s largest indoor carousel, as part of its bizarre themed collections.
On top of a 60-foot tall column of sheer rock, Alex Jordan Jr. finished the house begun as one-upmanship by his architect father. The house was purposely built near the famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s personal residence, Taliesin.
As the story goes, Alex Jordan Sr. was Frank Lloyd Wright’s biggest fan and hoped to get his idol’s approval for a building he had designed. Wright told Jordan he “wouldn’t hire him to design a cheese crate or a chicken coop.” While driving home in a huff from the fateful meeting, he planned this house that has become shrouded in myth and legend.
The Infinity Room contains thousands of windows and a glass panel in the floor, where visitors can look directly down into the valley. It hangs out 218 feet from the house without supports underneath.
Some of these instruments actually play, but the string and woodwind sounds are produced by organ pipes. The mechanically moving instruments create an illusion designed to fool and entertain visitors.
Obviously his perceived masterpiece was never meant to become a museum. Alex Jordan Jr. filled the home with oddities purchased or built, that reflected an eccentric and reclusive lifestyle. This carousel features 269 animals, 182 chandeliers, 20,000 lights, and hundreds of mannequin angels hanging from the ceiling.
The Mikado is one of the animated, off-key musical machines with an oriental façade that Jordan designed. I agree with a description that reads – “the House on the Rock is a manic mishmash of mechanical musty mayhem and sensory overload.” We saw collections of ivory carvings, model sailing ships, dolls, knight’s armor, cars, British crown jewels, silverware, toy circuses, guns, cash registers, stained glass and lots more stuff.
The House on the Rock left me overwhelmed and confused, after spending over five hours walking the winding pathways. I found a book on Alex Jordan’s life, to better understand his passion for living with so many fakes that he passed off as real.
He was described as a combination of Howard Hughes and P.T. Barnum, rolled up into one masterful collector and architect. As a child, he learned how to do magic tricks. Growing up, he would sit in a corner and laugh about the way he fooled everyone. His home became a masterpiece of illusion and imagination about places he never visited.
Although most people throughout the world have heard of Taliesin, Frank Lloyd Wright’s home, Jordan had the last laugh. The House on the Rock is said to draw more visitors every year than any other spot in Wisconsin, including the nearby F. L. Wright’s Taliesin.