Geologists say this lush green valley was once covered by a huge ocean. The waters eroded the stone and left craggy rock formations towering the valley floor. Alex first spied one such unusual outcropping of rock called Deer Shelter Rock, which by then had become a popular picnicking spot, on a family outing when he was a boy and by the early 1940s he was already dreaming of building a house there.
At first Alex picnicked on the rock. It was not long before picnics were not enough. He felt the need to begin building the house of his dreams. And so begin his life-long endeavor. At first he built what he called a “shack” but tore it down because he was not satisfied. He then rebuilt and called his creation The Winter Room which he used as a private retreat where he could pursue his interests in music, books and sculpture. In the years that followed he added more rooms – thirteen in all by the early 1960s. Alex never drew up any plans for the House but built directly from the ideas in his head and was not afraid to tear down, backtrack and re-build if things we not to his liking.
Inevitably, Jordan’s grand project began attracting attention from friends and passersby. As the number of sightseers increased, he built a staircase for them – now a 375-foot ramp through the tree tops. In 1960, he bowed to the inevitable and opened the House on the Rock to the public, charging fifty cents for admission. The revenue was immediately reinvested in expanding the scope of his dream.
The House as it appears today is the same as Alex left it. There have been some technical improvements, maintenance and a few things have been added in the Jordan tradition. What started as a simple “shack,” a sculptor’s retreat, continues to charm and fascinate thousands of visitors from around the world.
-from the guide to the uplands of southwest Wisconsin