Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe
Jordan began building House on the Rock in the 1940s. The outer structure, which sits atop enormous boulders, looks like a Battlestar Galactica ship designed by a Frank Lloyd Wright groupie. As soon as he began building 70 years ago, public curiosity grew. So in 1960, Jordan started letting visitors in for 50 cents a tour. Within the first year he’d made over $5,000. Today House on the Rock is among Wisconsin’s most popular tourist attractions, though prices have risen considerably: now full tours run nearly $30 per person for adults.
Jordan continued to add to House on the Rock until he died in 1989. A full tour takes five hours, visits several outbuildings, and covers two miles of ground. It's a heavy dose of weird. Among Jordan’s collections is a mini circus with over a million figurines, including bulldogs and female centaurs; the world’s largest carousel, with 289 creatures and 20,000 lights; and a 200-foot sea creature battling a giant octopus. There’s also an entire room filled with organs, a room of self-playing instruments, and a women’s bathroom cluttered with dolls in glass cases. A tour of House on the Rock is like meandering through a twisted kid’s fantasies and nightmares. It’s a less poetic Alice and Wonderland. Walt Disney has nothing on Jordan.
Jordan’s world is dark, dank, and totally twisted. Fortunately House on the Rock is also relatively near Taliesin, Frank Lloyd Wright's summer home, which may help if you need some culture after inhabiting a madman’s fantasies.