Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Monday, Sept. 7 (Labor Day) - Part 1

"Part 1" in the title should be your clue that today's post will NOT be brief. It was a 2-hour drive from where I was to Spring Green, Wisconsin, which is the location of The House on the Rock, a place my good friend Carol Neumark said I HAD to visit if I was within 500 miles. And I'm very glad she did. It is an amazing place which is hard to describe....but I'll try. A lot of this description will be taken verbatim from the book I bought there.

The House on the rock was designed and predominantly built by Alex Jordan, "a creator of colossal magnitude," between 1945 and 1960. Not only did Alex believe in integrating the house with its environment (as evidenced by the trees growing right through the walls and roof and use of the natural rock formations as much as possible), but he "believed that sights and sounds were the most effective means of stimulating the senses." In many places throughout the house, automated music machines provide a wide variety of music, while in other places, the peaceful sounds of water falling over rocks and views of oriental-inspired zen-like gardens rest the eyes and soul. To save space, I'm going to use smaller sized pictures here, but they should all open up to full size if you click on them. The order of the pictures is random (and continued in Part 2) but all are from the 13 rooms of the original house he built (he added other buildings later, but I won't see them until tomorrow).

This is part of the Japanese Garden you see as you enter the House on the Rock.

The "Infinity Room" (not completed until 1985, 40 years after Alex started planning it), extends 218 feet out over the scenic valley (the last 140 feet are entirely unsupported). Very different from the rest of the house which winds its way around the rocks and trees it is built upon, this "one long thin room will hang in space."
"The virtually transparent structure incorporates 3264 window panes and a clear-topped coffee table to allow guests an unimpeded view in all directions."

This is the view of the treetops as seen through the glass "coffee table" in the Infinity Room. The forest floor is 156 feet below.

If I remember correctly, this tranquil scene was located in (or to the side of) the dining room.

This electric heating element, built into the hearth of one of the fireplaces, should have hinted to me of what was to come....

....the electric range in the kitchen looked, to me, incongruous --- somehow out of place. I guess I liked to think that the cooking was all done in the huge kettles hanging in the fireplaces!

"The Winter Room, now an intimate, cozy haven, originally served as Jordan's first workshop, a place where he could also read, sketch, entertain, and daydream."

This is a close-up of one of many panels grouped throughout the house (on walls or doors), illuminated from behind, showing the influence oriental art had on Jordan's esthetic sense.

This is one of many "music machines" throughout the house. All the instruments actually play (they are somehow mechanized) and you can see the strings being plucked and the drums being hit, etc.

I thought this was maybe a mirror or a framed piece of art ---until it started playing the theme from "The Godfather!" It is actually another of the "music machines." .

"The most exotic lighting in the House showcases Jordan's huge collection of famed Bauer-Coble stained glass lamps, perhaps one of the largest in the world. Originally created in the 1970's in frank imitation of Tiffany lamps, these are considered by many to be finer quality and more valuable."

The left side of this picture is a seating area; the right side is the hearth of a HUGE fireplace. There are many fireplaces throughout the house, but I think this one was the largest. One of them (this one?) actually has a stairway going up the flue so they could more easily clean the chimney! Some of the cooking kettles (cauldrons) were 4 or 5 feet in diameter.

This is the dining table, I believe. Lit from below, it had a very colorful dragon in the center.

I think these panels were along the walls of one of the rooms. Most of the rooms were very dimly lit to show off the beauty of the many stained glass windows and Tiffany-type lamps. The illumination of these panels by natural sunlight was very beautiful.

There is a 3-story huge bookcase full of rare, old books which is accessible on all the floors of the house. Many of the rooms seems to invite one to sit down and read --- comfy couches and cushions on the rock "benches."


  1. that house on rock is very interisting thanks for sharing, haven't seen helen, i have been sick but will go over next week, talked to fee she said she has changed, it will be interisting to ss if she knows me, have fun, love dana, puppy's looked great after their bath, you should of had a before and after

  2. I did a Google search for Bauer~Coble glass and your picture came up first. But the lamp you used was not made by Bauer~Coble, but rather a factory in New York city. Most of the Bauer~Coble lamps are much more intricate. And all of the Bauer~Coble lamps are signed (small copper tag soldered inside the lamp, but not visible to viewers). So we understand that visitors do not know which lamps are ours. We made 48 lampshades for Mr. Jordan. Sincerely, John Coble.