House on the Rock vs. Taliesin

When I was young, my dad took me to House on the Rock. I never understood why he took me there, and not to Taliesin at the same time...until this trip.

The first garden at HOTR


There's a story (since proved wrong, for any number of reasons), that Alex Jordan built HOTR because he wanted Frank Lloyd Wright to collaborate on a house and Wright refused. But that contrast stayed in my mind this trip.

Though House on the Rock has some cozy spaces in the house itself...'s really about the show, the razzle-dazzle.

In fact, one thing that we learned about the house is that Jordan only ever spent 4 nights in the house ever. he built it as a showcase, as a tourist attraction. And it succeeds, even though it's kind of exhausting.

It's also a place for him to showcase all of his collections, from carousels to dollhouses to firearms to cars to jewelers models to musical rooms to full-built towns. I think my dad aspired to that, though all he really seemed to collect were discounted items from Banks.

And Jordan did not come from money; he came from construction. He collected and built all this as part of the attraction.

I think my dad was drawn to that dream.


Taliesin on the other hand, is simple much more restrained. Though in its own way, overwhelming.

The idea of going back to family land, of building a retreat there, of surrounding yourself with people you love, of having weekly gatherings, speaks much more to me.

I mean, it doesn't mean that Wright was not kind of a pompous egoist, because he was. And Taliesin, site of a mass murder and burned twice, is no haven of unbridled success.

But in the end, I found myself resonating with it much more. It was an interesting contrast to my dad. And the first time I had really thought about it.


bethanyg said…
And an addendum, of sorts:

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