|Image by John Kroll via Flickr|
|Dollhouse at House on the Rock|
When I first visited the House on the Rock in 1981 I didn't realize what I was going to see. I had seen it as a little red square on the map designating it as a place of interest so I thought I might check it out.
This was back when I was touring with the World of Fantasy Players stage production of The Wizard of Oz. Whenever we had the opportunity we would check out any places of interest in the areas we would be travelling and if there was time we'd play tourist.
House on the Rock sounded intriguing. I didn't find much information about it other than it was a house that had been built on a pinnacle of rock. Since Taliesin--the summer home of renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright--was situated nearby I figured House on the Rock must be something similar to that. Boy, was I wrong.
Everyone who was working on the show catered to my whim and went to see this attraction. It's located in a beautiful area of southern Wisconsin west of Madison and not too far from the popular Wisconsin Dells tourist area. We had already spent some time in the Dells so we were in a touristy frame of mind.
A road through a forested area brought us to a graveled parking lot. All we could see were trees so there was no hint of what was to come. We were a bit taken aback by the cost, which at the time I think was about twelve dollars. It seemed a bit much to pay to tour a house even if the house was built on a rock. Since we were there we agreed to go ahead and pay the admission to see the sight.
It started out interestingly enough. The stone house was attractive and unique in design. Passageways meandered through several rooms with an assortment of fanciful furniture, Tiffany lamps, and other unusual furnishings from all parts of the world. I was fascinated and pleased with the experience as we neared the end of the house tour.
Then came the truly strange and unexpected part--a passageway filled with all sorts of peculiar displays led from the house to what I assumed was the exit. I was somewhat puzzled to emerge into what appeared to be an early twentieth century street. There were storefronts and various vehicles parked on the street. We had been transported to another place and era. We spent some time here and then realized there was a theater entrance with a brightly lit marquee above it.
After entering the theater we found ourselves in a museum-like exhibit of music boxes, nickelodeon machines, and mechanized musical instrument assemblages. As we progressed, each display got bigger, grander, and more complex, until eventually we were passing through entire rooms filled with automated musical instruments and mechanical figures. The rooms were glitzy, gaudy, and full of amazing music. Trying to describe it adequately is futile. It was one of those must see to believe experiences.
And it went on from there with too many displays to describe here. Even the bathrooms were amazing with displays that were like visiting a museum. It was all such an adjective inducing attraction that it would become superfluous to go on describing it.
We left in awe of what we had seen. For a few years after that visit, my wife and I returned to that incredible house whenever we were in the area. Each year new things were added with more promised for the future. There was much still planned to be added when we visited last in the mid-eighties.
I hope that one day I can go back to see what new surprises have been added to this super excursion into surrealism. If you are ever visiting the Dells or somewhere near the House on the Rock I would highly recommend a side trip. According to their website, the House on the Rock now has a resort hotel that sounds like a fine addition to make your visit an top notch vacation experience.
Have you been to House on the Rock? If you've been there in recent years, how is it now? Where have you gone that was much different than your expectations?