This weekend Matt and I slacked off and journeyed into the wilds of Central Wisconsin. Last month we discovered a rather large miscommunication regarding a trip to Spring Green to see the American Players Theater with my mom and step-dad (and his mother and kids). We thought they had been referring to this past weekend when we put it in our calendars, but no, this weekend was a completely different (and day-trip only) excursion to Spring Green. Oops. We had to miss the earlier trip, but were able to make it out this time at least.
This was my first time to see American Players Theater and it was quite lovely. We saw An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde which was delightful.
Also in Spring Green is Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin… but we didn’t go there. Oh no. That was way too high brow for me and Matt.
We went to the House on the Rock.
If you’ve never heard of The House on the Rock (which basically means you’re either not from central-ish Wisconsin or have never read American Gods), this is the best description I’ve found for it:
The most concise way I can describe The House on the Rock is this: Imagine you took all the buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, deconstructed them, and randomly attached the parts to a generic office park. Then imagine you took the permanent collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum and the American Museum of Natural History, mixed that with the contents of every thrift store in America, and spread it all throughout the Frank Lloyd Wright/office-park structure, with no curation or explanatory text. Then throw a 200-foot-tall model of a sea monster in there, too. –Vice.com
Neil Gaiman’s comment in regards to American Gods was something to the effect of that he had to tone it down a bit to make it seem believable.
I personally describe it as “Imagine a permanently stoned Frank Llyod Wright who was a compulsive hoarder with a particular fascination for self-playing instruments.”
Yeah… it’s…. weird.
There’s not a great way to describe beyond what was said above, so here are some pictures.
It starts off reasonably enough in the Original House. You can definitely tell that the architect was inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, but he also seems to be embracing the 70’s bachelor pad well before it’s time. And yes, those are trees just sticking up through the house.
Then there’s the Infinity Room which was a much later addition. It’s actually pretty cool unless you’re like me and aren’t so hot with heights (the room just cantilevers off the side of a cliff).
Eventually you hit The Music of Yesterday which is the most insane collection of self-playing instruments possibly ever. You can get tokens to make them play too.
Along with the Infinity Room, the Carousel is one of the best known features of The House on the Rock. It’s listed as the world’s largest indoor carousel, and out of the 200+ animals featured on it, not a single one is horse. It’s also impossible to get a good picture of unless you’re magic.
I’m skipping over TONS but throughout the tour there are collections of guns, Japanese art, organs, cash registers, coin banks, dolls, doll houses, suits of armor, planes, newspapers, and cars, along with self-playing instruments, fortune-telling machines, and other token-driven gadgets.
It’s crazy, it’s trippy, it’s probably worth doing once… unless you have a crazy fear of dolls and/or clowns, then you probably want to skip section 3. And if you’re claustrophobic the entire place might not be for you.
Oh, and unlike Frank Lloyd Wright houses, The House on the Rock doesn’t leak* and isn’t sliding off the cliff.
*As far as I know, every single damn building that man designed ended up with a leaking roof and lots of have needed significant repairs to keep them standing over the years. Was he an aesthetic genius? Definitely! Was he an engineer? Definitely not.