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House On The Rock

Updated on October 21, 2014

A Fun Weekend Getaway

For over 60 years, the House on the Rock has been a majestic work in progress. It all began in 1945, when Alex Jordan decided to build a man-made retreat as awe-inspiring as the view from the rock upon which the house would eventually be built.

Over the years the House on the Rock has evolved to include amazing displays and unfathomable collections that never fail to amaze. You can visit the house on the rock dozens of times and still find something you missed last time.

The house on the rock located in Spring Green, Wisconsin, is only a 4 hour drive from our house in St. Paul, Minnesota. It makes a wonderful weekend trip and we try to visit once a year.

The History Behind House On The Rock

The "House on the Rock" sits atop Deer Shelter Rock, a 60 foot tower of sandstone just south of Spring Green Wisconsin. Construction of the house itself was begun by Alex Jordan Jr. in the early 1940s as a retreat from city life in Madison, Wisconsin.

The original 13 room house has grown over the years to house Alex Jordan's amazing collections. House on the Rock is now an extraordinary complex of rooms, streets, buildings and gardens covering over 200 acres. Furnishings include Oriental art, stained glass lamps, bronze statuary and a three-story bookcase filled with rare books. The 14th room was added in 1985 and proves to be the most spectacular, the Infinity Room.

The house officially opened as a public attraction during the summer of 1960, at the urging of Alex Jordan Jr.'s father who had been bankrolling the project.

Spring Green, Wisconsin

House on the Rock is about a 4 hour drive from the Twin Cities in Minnesota or Chicago, Il. Both have major Airports and the drive through Wisconsin is always beautiful.

show route and directions
A markerHouse On The Rock -
5754 State Road 23, Spring Green, WI 53533
get directions

B markerTwin Cities -
Saint Paul, Mn
get directions

C markerChicago -
Chicago, Il
get directions

Alex Jordan Jr.

During the 1940s, a man named Alex Jordan discovered a 60-foot chimney of rock in the beautiful Wyoming Valley. It was here he decided to build a house on the sandstone formation called Deer Shelter Rock. Jordan built the house as a weekend retreat and never intended it to be a tourist attraction. However, people kept coming to see the architectural wonder they had heard about. Jordan eventually started asking for 50 cent donations. That was only the beginning. The 14-room house is the original structure of what is now a complex of many buildings, exhibits and garden displays.

Alex was a collector all his life and enjoyed visiting museums; however, he did not want The House on the Rock to be a museum. He intended it to be much more than that. Though parts of the collections could have easily found their way into museums, The House on the Rock is more of a trip through the wild and fantastic imagination of Alex Jordan than a visit to a dusty, lifeless museum.

In December of 1988, Alex sold The House on the Rock to longtime associate Art Donaldson, a collector and a businessman who shared his broad interests. Alex remained at The House on the Rock as Artistic Director until his death on November 6, 1989. Art Donaldson continues to own The House on the Rock and builds on Alex's dream of expanding and entertaining visitors from all over the world. Alex continues to be in his own words, "Present but not voting".

The Infinity Room

Alex Jordan first envisioned the 14th room to be called the "Infinity room" in the 1940s after being inspired by a verse of a Don Blanding poem. Alex wrote his own poem about the house that he imagines as "one long thin room will hang in space." This engineering marvel was finally completed in 1985, after 4 decades of dreaming.

Today the infinity room extends for 218 feet over the scenic Wyoming Valley. The room stands 156 feet above the forest floor, with the last 140 feet of the amazing room simply hanging in mid-air, entirelly unsupported. There is no other room like it in the entire world.

The Doorway to Infinity

The room contains 3,264 window panes to allow a clear view in all directions.

The room contains 3,264 window panes to allow a clear view in all directions.
The room contains 3,264 window panes to allow a clear view in all directions.

The Gate House

The construction of the Gate House was started in 1960 after the House on the Rock was opened to the public. The Gate House serves as the entry way to the main house .

This area has a rugged and masculine feel with a unique stone fireplace, 1960s era modern kitchen and glimpses of some of the collections and themes found throughout the rest of the complex. Here you will find Oriental and other ethnic artwork and the first of many fantastic music machines.

Gate House Room

The 1st of many self playing music machines

The 1st of many self playing music machines
The 1st of many self playing music machines

Inside the House on the Rock

The natural rocks of the cliff are as much a part of the house as the house is a part of the rock.

The actual house is a labrinth of stone and wood with every nook and cranny containing new marvels and delights.

There an amazing collection of antique and rare books, cosy reading areas and waterfalls built right into the living areas.

The house contains hundreds of Bauer ~ Coble stained glass lamps inspired by Tiffany, as well as wonderous stained glass windows.

Each room has it's own special mood or theme. The three stories of books and cozy reading nooks inspire fantasy and the music machines add an element of the magical.

Built in Fireplaces

Amazing Statuary is everywhere

Amazing Statuary is everywhere
Amazing Statuary is everywhere

The Mill House

The Mill House boasts one of the world's largest fireplaces. Designed to resemble a fireplace in a Scottish castle, the huge fire pit easily holds giant cauldrons. Everywhere you look there are fantastical delights and amazing collections.

The Mill House is filled with music machines, suits of armor and a virtual arsenal of antique firearms. More massive collections like mechanical die-cast banks, colorful paper weights, fragile glassware, toy trains and steam engines are displayed all around to delight the eye.

Wall of Armor

Antique Firearms

Antique Firearms
Antique Firearms

House on the Rock has three different options for lodging with package deals available that include tickets for the House on the Rock tours. Stay and Tour Packages and Stay and Golf Packages are available at the Inn, the North Lodge, and the Resort. Call 800-334-5275 for reservations and more information.

The House on the Rock Resort

The high standards and impeccable tastes of the House on the Rock Resort are reflected in every aspect of the Resort experience - most notably in the 27 holes of championship golf. Beyond the course, the Resort features an exceptional blend of spacious suites, exceptional spa services and exquisite dining delights. With Frank Lloyd Wright influences throughout, our two-room suites offer splendid views of the surrounding countryside and pristine golf course.

Our Resort Stay and Tour Packages allow you to stay at the Resort and visit the Attraction for one great price! Golf Packages are also available allowing you various combinations of our courses. Call 800-822-7774 for lodging reservations, tee times, and so much more.

Spa

Indulge in a little luxury! The House on the Rock Resort is well-known as a wonderful destination for rest and relaxation. Now you can summon the services of our spa to make your stay even more memorable, relaxing and invigorating. Slip away from the stresses of daily life to renew and rejuvenate your mind and body. We offer a variety of therapies, utilizing aromatherapy, herbology and other treatments to indulge your senses.

Golf

**Both Courses Rated 4 ½ Stars by Golf Digest**

While designing 27 holes of championship golf, three prestigious golf course architects took advantage of the amazing natural surroundings. Working with the terrain's rolling hills and tremendous greenery, these legends created the finest golf has to offer - and it's located at the House on the Rock Resort.

Golf Packages, Annual and Corporate passes are available. You'll find the rates and value as ideal as the course! Call 800-822-7774 for reservations and more information.

The House on the Rock Inn

After an exhilarating and active day touring the House on the Rock Attraction, a short, seven-mile drive to the House on the Rock Inn makes for a relaxing retreat. Outside your room, you'll find the Inn has plenty of activity and relaxation for all tastes. Stay and Tour Packages allow you to go from Attraction to relaxation for one great price! Flexible pricing options are available to help you create the perfect getaway or family outing. Call 888-935-3960 for reservations and more information.

The North Lodge

The North Lodge is a comfortable 63 room inn that offers a welcome place to realax for those more budget-minded guest. Along with a variety of room confgurations to meet your needs, the North Lodge comes complete with an indoor swimming pool, sauna and whirlpool. Guests staying at the North Lodge may also use all of the facilities of the House on the Rock Inn.

Stay and Tour Packages allow you to go from Attraction to relaxation for one great price! Flexible pricing options are available to help you create the perfect getaway or family outing. Call 888-935-3960 for reservations and more information.

The Streets of Yesterday

Feel yourself transported back in time to small town America. Visit an era of quaint little shops and cobbled streets. A time when the horseless carriage was still a novelty.

Look through the many windows of the past, into houses with wood burning stoves, an old time apothacary, barbershop and Sherrif"s office. See the fire engines of our ancestors and marvel at this amazing little villiage that lives inside of the house on the rock complex.

Heritage of the Sea

The Heritage of the Sea building was Alex Jordans last big project. The 200 foot sea creature is worth the trip to the House on the Rock all by itself. This display is longer than the statue of liberty is tall. Towering above you, the creature fights a giant Octopus as it swallows a life size whaling dinghy.

Walkways take you up and around this mighty creature so you can view it from every angle. Along the way there are hundreds of seafaring exhibits, over 200 models of ships from frigates and cutters to men o' war. Nearly every type of ocean going vessel is represented.

A Look inside - The House On The Rock

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Music of Yesterday

This exhibit starts in the theatre lobby with some of the smaller musical machines and moves on to grand rooms that house bigger and then massive and amazingly intricate music machines.

From the Cremona player piano to the mechanically operated symphony orchestra in the Baroque Blue Room, wonders abound.

The Josef Franz ~ A towering 27 foot tall and 12 foot wide giant organ, has mechanical action that animates brass, reed, percussion & stringed instruments and more.

The Mikado (pictured) is an astounding Oriental music machine that pumps out chords on a monster pipe organ with 118 keys.

There is an entire wall of instrumentation that plays the "Blue Danube Waltz" in the grand finale of the Russian Musical Fantasy Red Room.

Classic Cars

From the famous tile car, a 1963 Lincoln Continental with suicide doors, armor plated and then covered in blue tiles to the 1953 Packard Coupe, the House on the Rock classic car collection is amazing.

There are even stage coaches and a long horse drawn hook and ladder on loan from the Spring Green, WI fire department.

Hot air balloons float above you as you walk through this collection that even includes an antique Ford Popcorn Wagon.

So Much to See

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New Spirit of Aviation

In this area you are transported back in time to a 1950s Airfield.

Amazing model airplanes soar above you, some with wing spans as long as 8 feet.

A quaint Airport Cafe with 1950s prices on the menu makes this a fun blast from the past.

The World's Largest Carousel

Life size Angels float above you as you become mezmerized in the Carousel room. The impact of this one of a kind carousel defies description. At 80 feey across, 35 feet tall and weighing in at an astounding 36 tons/72,000 pounds, this carousel has 269 handcrafted carousel animals, none of which are horses.

Instead you see a mythical menagerie of sea creatures, 53 centaurs, 36 peacocks, mermaids and more.

Set admidst 20,000 lights and 182 chandeliers the carousel is in constant motion while over 200 genuine antique carousel horses decorate the walls.

Wonders Everywhere

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Thanks For Visiting! - Please take a moment to say hello

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    • WhiteOak50 profile image

      WhiteOak50 6 years ago

      I am traveling around Squidooville and just stopped by this neighborhood and noticed this fantastic page!! So for this Memorial Day Weekend Road Trip, I wanted to leave you with a Blessing from a SquidAngel Have a safe and beautiful Memorial Day!

    • profile image

      ShamanicShift 6 years ago

      Here I am circling back to SquidAngel bless this memorable lens!

    • profile image

      ShamanicShift 6 years ago

      This lens brings back memories of my visit there -- great job.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Fantastic lens, my list of must visit places is getting really long.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Oh, how I wish I could visit such a wonderful, marvelous place!!

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 7 years ago

      This is a great lens, very well presented. Love the pics and the history, etc. One day, but it looks unlikely, my old body might get over the Pacific to some of these great places. Top marks and lensrolled to the Great Ourdoors. I may feature it there as well.

      Norma

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 7 years ago

      a vey interesting place to visit...bizarre and fascinating...to say the least...nice lens...5*

    • InkedEmma profile image

      InkedEmma 7 years ago

      My favorite place in Wisconsin, I remember coming here very young and I still continue to go... (I try to go once a year at least but it's quite a drive from where I live) and I will take my children there too :) Love the House on the Rock, beautiful photos!

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 8 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      Wow, I hadn't been here before. I just wrote a lens on the House on the Rock. Nice lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      I am 21 and from chicago. I just visited this place for the first time ever on Saturday the 12 of Septemeber, 2009. My boyfriend had told me about it we he had gone at the age of 10. I have never seen anything so spectacular in my life. I wish we would have had more time to wander around this huge display of fantasy and art. I highly recommend a visit to this wonderful House some time in one's life.

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 8 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      Great lens! Lots of good info and images. It's on our list now of places to see when we're up that way.

    • Mihaela Vrban profile image

      Mihaela Vrban 8 years ago from Croatia

      Pictures of this place are fascinating! If only I was closer... :( Blessed by an Angel!

    • annetteghallowe1 profile image

      annetteghallowe1 8 years ago

      Thanks for doing this! I have driven past the exit year after year on my way to Minnesota and wondered what "House on the Rock" is. Now I want to take the exit next time!

    • Senora M profile image

      Senora M 8 years ago

      cool lens--5*s!!

      FREE Samples and Freebies

    • profile image

      enslavedbyfaeries 8 years ago

      What a fascinating destination! I would love to visit. :)

    • AlisonMeacham profile image

      AlisonMeacham 8 years ago

      This place looks amazing! Squid Angel Blessings to you

    • Faye Rutledge profile image

      Faye Rutledge 8 years ago from Concord VA

      What an interesting place! I'd love to visit it sometime, but don't think I could go in the Infinity Room! Great lens!

    • sittonbull profile image

      sittonbull 8 years ago

      Wow Bambi... "The House on the Rock" rocks! I've been to some of the grand conventional estates like the Vanderbilt"s Biltmore House and The Breakers, but looks like Alex had some rather eclectic interests on display and money was no object. Got to be a real trip to see THOTRs.

    • Brit303 profile image

      Brit303 8 years ago

      Nice work, Bambi. I live in the Milwaukee area, and drive through Spring Green frequently on my way to our family's cabin in Vernon County. One of these days I'll pay a visit to the House on The Rock. I've heard it's a real mind-blowing experience.

      One thing to add: Non-Wisconsin visitors who decide to fly in will find Madison a convenient stopping point. Spring Green is about an hour away.

      -Tom

    • Simeyc1 profile image

      Simeyc1 8 years ago

      Great Lens...I love the Infinite room!

    • profile image

      grannysage 8 years ago

      I just love synchronicities. I just can’t always figure out what they mean. I just finished a fiction book where an important piece of the action takes place in the House of the Rock. I actually thought a lot of it must have been made up. Then I saw your post at the forum and came here and wow! Here is the House and the rooms they talk about and even the carousel. The book is American Gods by Neil Gaiman. A rather strange book...one of the reviews says “where the travelers are even stranger than the roadside attractions.” Love the pictures.

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 8 years ago

      Thanks for the memories!

      Lizzy

    • Superwife profile image

      Superwife 8 years ago

      Wow! What a totally cool place to visit- such a cool lens!

    • verymary profile image

      Mary 8 years ago from Chicago area

      Wow--quirky and fun, must be a cool way to spend the day! 5*****

    • JenOfChicago LM profile image

      JenOfChicago LM 8 years ago

      Great lens! House on the Rock is also a good day or weekend trip from the Chicago area too!

    • profile image

      Light-in-me 8 years ago

      This is so cool, I would love to visit. Maybe someday, great job I enjoyed my visit !!

    • profile image

      USAmadeGirl 8 years ago

      Wow, that is some place! Very nice lens.

      Anita

    • EpicFarms profile image

      EpicFarms 8 years ago

      Wonderful lens on an amazing place! I bet it would be a blast to visit :o) Very nicely done lens.

    • Rachel Field profile image

      Rachel Field 8 years ago

      Excellent lens! I'm not entirely sure, because I don't have the book anymore, but I'm pretty sure that this place is important in Neil Gaiman's novel American Gods- I certainly recognise the name and the details all sound right.

    • cappuccino136 profile image

      cappuccino136 8 years ago

      Wow, I've never heard of this place before, but I'd love to see it. This is a very vivid and detailed lens. I love all the pictures.

    • CrypticFragment1 profile image

      Tammy Winand 8 years ago from McleodGanj HP India

      what a weird funky house...glad Mimi pointed me to you/your page!

      I'm not sure I'd feel so comfy in that infinity room overhanging...nothingness

      nice to "meet" you; just added you on twitter too ;-)

    • CrypticFragment1 profile image

      Tammy Winand 8 years ago from McleodGanj HP India

      what a weird funky house...glad Mimi pointed me to you/your page!

      I'm not sure I'd feel so comfy in that infinity room overhanging...nothingness

      nice to "meet" you; just added you on twitter too ;-)

    • VBright profile image

      VBright 8 years ago

      This is fascinating. Like Mimi Says it is reminiscent of the Winchester House (which I would love to visit!)

    • Holley Web profile image

      Holley Web 8 years ago

      Amazing lens, Bambi!

    • profile image

      GrowWear 8 years ago

      AWESOME! Gotta come back and finish reading. This is mind-blowing; a new wonder for me -- like the Winchester House!!