The House on the Rock

warning: this post is full of pictures. The House on the Rock is a famous place. There are billboards all over Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa advertising it. It has been written about in several novels. So my inner tourist had to go.

In the 1950’s Alex Jorden decided to purchase the land where his family loved to picnic. It included a five story high rock formation known as Deer Shelter Rock. He got the notion to build his house on top of the rock formation. And so it began.

As the building was created, people would come by and ask to see it. After all, it was unique. Alex thought it would be great if he could get people to pay to see it. Eventually he hired staff, started charging an entrance fee, begin advertising. Millions have toured it over the past decades. When Alex passed, once of his business partners bought and continues to run it today.

The welcome center is itself a reason to visit. The grounds are laid out as gardens, and the museum contains a timeline of Jorden’s life and the history of the buildings.

After this, you go into the house.

He used the actual rockface and trees as elements of the building.

One of the rooms is called the infinity room. It hangs out over the valley without support. I went in about 10 feet.


Eventually, Alex brought his various collections to the site and began  putting up other buildings to house them. Until he died in 1989, his collections grew to an enormous amount. There are currently 5 warehouses on the property to showcase everything.

And I mean everything. You name it and there’s a collection of it here. Dolls, guns, nautical items, circus posters, dollhouses and miniatures, ivory carvings, model airplanes, Tiffany lamps, hand fans, vases, 19th century farm tools, carriages, marionettes,  and that’s not even a fourth of them.

There are rooms filled with automatons which are music machines. This was one of his passions. You can buy tokens to play them and when several are going at once, it can get very loud. Some are large as an entire room.

Another passion Alex had was anything to do with the sea and one whole building is dedicated to this collection. It includes a statue of a whale being attacked by a giant squid that is four stories high. You have to climb to the top of the room to see the eyes.

Even the restrooms are used as showcases. Here are two.

The most famous piece in the complex is the carousel. It claims to be the world’s larges, and indeed it has 259 animals and is three levels high. The most unusual thing about it is that none of the animals are horses.

The complex is divided into 4 parts and you can tour as many as you want for different prices. I did the whole thing and it took me six hours. The tour has been created as a winding path through the rooms and buildings. You just follow the signs and you see everything as you go along.

I think is the most amazing museum I have ever been in. If you want to go somewhere that is fun, interesting, education, and unusual, this is the place.

One thought on “The House on the Rock

  1. Pingback: Wisconsin – Governor Dodge State Park – Wandering Through Retirement

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