The Weirdest Roadside Attraction – Weird Wednesdays
The Roadside Attraction has been a staple of American history and travel across the states. The creation of the interstate diminished their glory somewhat, but they still exist across the highways of our amazing country.
By far the strangest roadside attraction that’s ever been erected is The House on the Rock. It is located north of Dodgeville, a city in Iowa County, south of Spring Green, Wisconsin and is a regional tourist attraction.
It’s difficult to fully describe the house in words, it’s a an eclectic mixture of odd architecture and collections of …well, everything!
History of the House on the Rock
The House on the Rock originally opened in 1959, it was designed by Alex Jordan Jr. The supposed inspiration behind the original construction of the house was a meeting between Alex Jordan Jr. and Frank Loyd Wright, who Alex had idolized. Mr. Wright took the time to view some of Alex Jordan Jr’s architectural plans and told him, “I wouldn’t hire you to design a cheese crate or a chicken coop. You’re not capable.” Fuming from the meeting, Alex Jordan Jr was driving back home on Highway 23 when he came across a spire of rock and decided he would build a Japanese style house on top of it.
Layout and Attractions
The original “house” sits atop Deer Shelter Rock, the column of rock is approximately 60 feet tall, 70 feet by 200 feet on the top. Additions were made to the original structure and other buildings added over the course of several decades. he complex now features “The Streets of Yesterday”, a re-creation of an early twentieth century American town; “The Heritage of the Sea”, featuring nautical exhibits and a 200-ft model of a fanciful whale-like sea creature; “The Music of Yesterday”, a huge collection of automatic music machines; and what the management bills as “the world’s largest indoor carousel”, among other attractions.
During the winter, the attraction features a Christmas theme, with decorations and a large collection of Santa Claus figures. Many of the bathrooms are decorated with strange objects, including mannequins, flowers, and preserved animals.
The earlier structures, namely the House on the Rock itself, the Gate House, and the Mill House, are reminiscent of the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, though much less coherently designed than is characteristic of Wright, given its patchwork of external structures and interior spaces. The building actually began partly to spite the master architect, who ran his Taliesin communal school near Spring Green. These early structures feature exposed stone, low ceilings, dark woodwork, and antiques on display.