Monday, September 1, 2014

House On The Rock

The visitor to House On The Rock in Spring Green, Wisconsin cannot help but feel that they are in for a magical, fun experience when they enter the driveway to this special house.  Large flower pots, besides containing many colorful flowers, are also crawling with lizards and snakes and a variety of winged creatures.  There are more of these pots in the parking lot as well as at the entrance to the house.  John and I had been here probably about 20 years ago, but I am certainly glad we returned.  I did not remember the flower pots, as well as many other things in the house or Japanese Gardens. 
After purchasing our tickets we entered an area of the building where there are many exhibits and much information on the creator of House On The Rock, Alex Jordan.  He was a dropout from college, and in his early twenties became fixated with a chimney rock called Deer Shelter Rock, located near his home.  He frequently had picnics on it, and eventually paid twenty dollars to lease it.  Later he was able to purchase the land surrounding the rock, and the rest is history.  By the 1940s, at the age of 26 years, he started building - carrying water, timber and cement up the 75 foot rock.  He dismissed the enormity of this project with these words:  “I did the whole top myself.  There never was a master plan- it just developed as I went along. What happens is you start out small, build a platform, some place between the rocks….”   By the 1960s the house was in the shape we see it today, and Jordan opened the house to the public.  He had a full-time employee by then who helped him put in some 110,000 plants on the 200 acres which surround the rock. Japanese gardens with ponds and waterfalls can be seen from the walkways around the buildings.
In 1961 he added to the structure with the Mill house and in 1968 the Gate House.  The rooms of these  additions have built-in sofas, benches and bookcases.  There is a warm and intimate atmosphere enhanced by the cozy nooks and casual seating.  It is a shame that no one is currently living in these rooms!
In 1970 Jordan was enthralled by Tiffany reproduction lamps and hung many of them in the house.  He also covered the windows with blue glass to redirect light and increase the effects of the lamps.  I will write more on this fascinating House as well as Jordan's amazing collections in my next posting

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