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The astonishing House on the Rock

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SPRING GREEN, Wis. — “House on the Rock” has mystified millions of visitors, through the years.  It’s an attraction that defies easy explanation.  As you pass through the visitor center, you’ll seen an enchanted garden in a valley with a sprawling network of walkways and buildings, all of it toward the center of gravity – a mysterious House on a rock.

“It’s phenomenal.  Absolutely phenomenal.  I’ve never seen anything like it,” a visitor tells me.  And I soon see for myself.

The spectacle draws visitors from around the world, eager to feel the power of human imagination.   The brainchild behind it all – late Wisconsin native, Alex Jordon.  By all accounts he was a creative genius, who in the 1940‘s, was struck by an urgent obsession to build his fantastic House.

“It started out as a bachelor pad, biographer, Tom Kupsh says.  “A place where he could read and pursue his interest in sculpture and music  – and actually a party house.”   But it grew with Jordan carrying up all the building materials himself, 75 feet to the top, expanding out his massive library.  Before long, locals started noticing the house, and Jordan started charging the curious 50 cents a tour.

“He opened it to the public.  And they lined up,” Kupsh explains.  “And so he lost his privacy, but gained an entrepreneurship.  And turned all the profits into collecting.”

That sparked a new obsession – Jordan collecting millions of objects from around the world – a quirky collection like no other with antique music box figures, rooms of medieval armor, remarkable replicas of the British crown jewels,  more organs in one room than you’ll ever see and every kind of doll imaginable – all shapes and sizes.  And there are hundreds  of scaled-down models of famous cruise ships and much. Much more.

Then there are fantastic music machines, cobbled together with antique animated figures, restored mechanical parts and a loving spoonful of Wisconsin ingenuity.

The showstopper is a magnificent merry-go-round, said to be the largest indoor carousel in the world, with 20,000 lights and hundreds of hand-carved unicorns, elephants and mermaids.  None of it designed to carry people, but to lift the spirit.

“The Calliope was the first music machine Alex created himself that no one had ever seen before,”  Kupsh says.    And that doesn’t even begin to tell the story.   You’ll scratch your head in amazement at gigantic, and we mean gigantic sea creature!

It’s said to be longer than the statue of Liberty.

Visitor, Bruce Gilbert says it’ll blow your mind.

“This is what amazes me,” he says.   “How could this all come about?  Just this one man?  What imagination he must have had to create all this stuff?”

Jordan, never satisfied, kept adding to his enormous collection.   And constantly modifying his house, extending a 155-foot long floating walkway over the forest below.  You won’t want to miss this engineering marvel, known as the “Infinity room.”  Turn and look through the 2624 panes of glass and you’ll see one of the most amazing views in the Midwest.”

And you’ll be amazed when you see this astonishing southwest Wisconsin destination.

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