Tuesday, March 8, 2011

House On The Rock

Self-Playing musical instruments at the House ...Image via Wikipedia
Spring Green, Wisconsin

Alex Jordan, Jr. wanted to teach Frank Lloyd Wright a thing or two about architecture. The lesson started years ago.

Jordan's dad, a budding architect, had been dismissed at Wright's Taliesin home, near Spring Green, with the declaration, "I wouldn't hire you to design a cheese crate or a chicken coop." Soon after, the senior Jordan chose a pinnacle rock south of Taliesin to build a parody of Wright's fancy-pants architecture, a strange "Japanese house." The ceilings were dangerously low (padded now to accommodate tourists) and the structure seemed to cling precariously to the odd contours of the rock.

The House On The Rock opened to the public in 1961. Today, it is only a small portion of the magical collection that spits in the eye of Mr. Big Deal Dead Architect. When Alex Jordan, Jr. took over the project from his dad in the 1940s he never dreamed where it would end, but with a half-million visitors a year, it probably won't end anytime soon.

Big pseudo-oriental serpent planters greet you at the entrance and line the drive. Fake palm fronds lend shade to areas around the House. At the ticket window, cautious old people ask, "How many rest stops again?" The tour is self-guided, rumored to take four hours, and not air-conditioned. No amount of mall-walking prepares you for the strenuous, humid, HOTR experience. [Note: Since this story was written, the tour has been segmented into four separate tours] {Read on}