July 10, 2013

Wisconsin Welcomes You

If you're not from Wisconsin, not related to someone from Wisconsin, not an aficionado of strange roadside attractions, nor a reader of American Gods by Neil Gaiman, you most likely have never heard of House on the Rock

Located in Spring Green, Wisconsin - just up the road from Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin - House on the Rock is the brainchild of Alex Jordan. The official literature refers to House on the Rock as "Alex Jordan's imaginary... man-made retreat." After spending half a day touring the house, grounds, and extensive collections, I'm going to go out on a limb and claim that it actually does exist in time and space. Therefore, I beg to differ with the official description of House on the Rock. I will take liberties and refer to the weekend retreat on a 60 foot tall formation of sandstone, overlooking the wooded valley below as imaginative rather than imaginary.

Other than insisting that the place is not imaginary, describing it is not easy. The "ultimate experience" admission consists of three parts, access to the house itself and two sections of over-the-top, kitschy, eclectic, and nearly relentless collections of stuff. Everything from apothecary bottles, model ships, toy circuses, fake crown jewels (very fake - I think I spotted the Burger King crown), mounted butterflies to intricate and bizarre weaponry, steam powered vehicles, carousels, calliope music making machines, most all in countless multiples. Hundreds of dollhouses, hundreds of carousel horses, hundreds of pistols. The list goes on and on with little rhyme or reason.

Even the approach to the house is peppered with the fantastical (yet decidedly not imaginary) in multiple. Several peacocks assembled from cast-off metals welcome visitors. As do tens of lizard and dragon adorned 20 (25?) foot tall planters. The gardens and fountains leading to the house are quite peaceful, including the fossilized raindrops. Yep. Straight from the dinosaur age.

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